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Polar vortex descends on US Midwest bringing bone-chilling arctic cold

January 31, 16:43 UTC+3

According to the US National Weather Service, temperatures plunged as low as -48.3 degrees in northern Illinois

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Pedestrians walk along Michigan Avenue above the frozen Chicago River in Chicago
Pedestrians walk along Michigan Avenue above the frozen Chicago River in Chicago
Pedestrians walk along Michigan Avenue above the frozen Chicago River in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
The US Midwest braces for a cold snap as a polar vortex drives temperatures far below zero
The US Midwest braces for a cold snap as a polar vortex drives temperatures far below zero
The US Midwest braces for a cold snap as a polar vortex drives temperatures far below zero
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
 A woman braves the freezing weather as she crosses a street in Chicago
 A woman braves the freezing weather as she crosses a street in Chicago
A woman braves the freezing weather as she crosses a street in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
High School students from China pose for pictures along Lake Michigan in Chicago
High School students from China pose for pictures along Lake Michigan in Chicago
High School students from China pose for pictures along Lake Michigan in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
An emergency preparedness plan was issued ahead of a “historic” polar vortex of cold air and wind descending on the US Midwest
An emergency preparedness plan was issued ahead of a “historic” polar vortex of cold air and wind descending on the US Midwest
An emergency preparedness plan was issued ahead of a “historic” polar vortex of cold air and wind descending on the US Midwest
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
A woman braves the freezing weather in Chicago
A woman braves the freezing weather in Chicago
A woman braves the freezing weather in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
A harbor light is covered with snow and ice on the Lake Michigan
A harbor light is covered with snow and ice on the Lake Michigan
A harbor light is covered with snow and ice on the Lake Michigan
© AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Steam rises from the city as the sun rises in Chicago
Steam rises from the city as the sun rises in Chicago
Steam rises from the city as the sun rises in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago
Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago
Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago
© AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
A Metra train moves southbound to downtown Chicago as the gas-fired switch heater on the rails keeps the ice and snow off the switches near Metra Western Avenue station in Chicago
A Metra train moves southbound to downtown Chicago as the gas-fired switch heater on the rails keeps the ice and snow off the switches near Metra Western Avenue station in Chicago
A Metra train moves southbound to downtown Chicago as the gas-fired switch heater on the rails keeps the ice and snow off the switches near Metra Western Avenue station in Chicago
© AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Commuters wait for a train in Chicago
Commuters wait for a train in Chicago
Commuters wait for a train in Chicago
© AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
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Pedestrians walk along Michigan Avenue above the frozen Chicago River in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
The US Midwest braces for a cold snap as a polar vortex drives temperatures far below zero
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
A woman braves the freezing weather as she crosses a street in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
Ice and snow builds up along Lake Michigan in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
High School students from China pose for pictures along Lake Michigan in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
An emergency preparedness plan was issued ahead of a “historic” polar vortex of cold air and wind descending on the US Midwest
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
A woman braves the freezing weather in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
A harbor light is covered with snow and ice on the Lake Michigan
© AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Steam rises from the city as the sun rises in Chicago
© EPA-EFE/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI
Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago
© AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
A Metra train moves southbound to downtown Chicago as the gas-fired switch heater on the rails keeps the ice and snow off the switches near Metra Western Avenue station in Chicago
© AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Commuters wait for a train in Chicago
© AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

A deadly arctic deep freeze enveloped the US Midwest with record-breaking temperatures, triggering widespread closures of schools and businesses. According to the US National Weather Service, temperatures plunged as low as -48.3 degrees in northern Illinois, -37.2 degrees in the central part of the state and -31.6 degrees in southern Illinois. According to the Flightaware flight tracking website, snowfalls caused a flurry of cancellations and delays at Chicago's two major airports. US Postal Service had to take the rare step of suspending mail delivery service to a wide swath of the region. See the images of how residents are weathering the arctic cold.

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