HAARP: Most dangerous temps in decades push across US

Deep freeze: Commuters make a sub-zero trek to offices in Chicago.: Commuters make a sub-zero trek to offices in Chicago on Jan. 6, 2014. Temperatures in the city dipped to -16 degree Fahrenheit in the morning.

Getty Images: Scott Olson

Commuters make a sub-zero trek to offices in Chicago on Jan. 6, 2014. Temperatures in the city dipped to -16 degree Fahrenheit in the morning.

AP  A “polar vortex,” a whirlpool of frigid, dense air, descended Monday on much of the U.S., blanketing parts of the country in a dangerous cold.

MINNEAPOLIS — The coldest, most dangerous blast of polar air in decades gripped the Midwest and pushed toward the East and South on Monday, closing schools and day care centers, grounding flights and forcing people to pull their hoods and scarves tight to protect exposed skin from nearly instant frostbite.

Many across the nation’s midsection went into virtual hibernation, while others dared to venture out in temperatures that plunged well below zero.

Arctic weather pattern keeps cities below zero

Arctic weather pattern keeps cities below zero“I’m going to try to make it two blocks without turning into crying man,” said Brooks Grace, who was out to do some banking and shopping in downtown Minneapolis, where temperatures reached 23 below with wind chills of minus 48. “It’s not cold — it’s painful.”

The mercury also dropped into negative territory in Milwaukee, St. Louis and Chicago, which set a record for the date at minus 16. Wind chills across the region were 40 below and colder. Records also fell in Oklahoma, Texas and Indiana.

Forecasters said some 187 million people in all could feel the effects of the “polar vortex” by the time it spread across the country on Monday night and Tuesday.

Record lows were possible in the East and South, with highs in the single digits expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama. Subzero wind chills were forecast up and down the coast, including minus 10 in Atlanta and minus 12 in Baltimore.

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