An arctic vortex spread over two-thirds of the U.S. Monday, sending temperatures to well below zero and wind chills to 50 below zero in some parts. These temperatures are some of the lowest in two decades with many cities enduring temperatures 30 to 50 degrees below the average temperature for this time of year, CNN reported.
The Midwest and Great Plains region is stomaching the brunt of the arctic air as most states won't even rise to zero degrees today. Temperatures in Chicago and St. Louis are minus 24 degrees, with Duluth, Minn. is expected to feel like 55 below zero with wind chill factored in.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced a level "red" travel emergency, making it illegal for anyone to drive except for emergencies, USA Today reported.
"It's just a dangerous cold," National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye told USA Today. Hypothermia and frostbite are palpable dangers with the onset of these weather conditions. "Exposed flesh can freeze in as little as 5 minutes with wind chills colder than 50 below," the National Weather Service's Twin Cities office in Minnesota said to CNN. The BBC reports the "polar vortex" and its chilly climate to be responsible for 16 deaths.
FlightStats.com reported that between Sunday and Monday more than 6,000 flights have been canceled and another 10,000 flights delayed on account of the inclement conditions.
The bitter cold is expected to continue towards the Northeast where residents are still digging out from a storm that generated up to 2 feet of snow in some areas.
"Cold temperatures and gusty winds associated with an arctic air mass will continue dangerously cold wind chills as far south as Brownsville, Texas and central Florida," the National Weather Service wrote on its website. "This arctic air mass will affect the eastern two-thirds of the country on Monday as a sharp cold front moves towards the East Coast."
The National Weather Service issued a Wind Chill Advisory for the D.C. metro area from 6 p.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday as temperatures are expected to range from minus 5 degrees to minus 20 degrees with the wind chill.
Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Alabama are also forecasted to endure freezing temperatures Monday night through Tuesday, worrying some citrus farmers.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a warm front to arrive on Wednesday.