A bone-chilling arctic cold wave with temperatures as low as 42 below zero shut down schools for thousands of youngsters Monday, sent homeless people into shelters and put car batteries on the disabled list from the northern Plains across the Great Lakes. At least four deaths were linked to the cold weather.
The cold was accompanied by snow that was measured in feet in parts of upstate New York.
"Anybody in their right mind wouldn't want to be out in weather like this," Lawrence Wiley, 57, said at Cincinnati's crowded Drop Inn Center homeless shelter, where he has been living. Monday lows were in the single digits.
With temperatures near zero and a wind chill of 25 below, school districts across Ohio canceled classes. "We have a lot of kids that walk to school. We didn't think it was worth the risk," said Sandusky City Schools Superintendent Bill Pahl.
It was so cold that Toledo, Ohio - 5 above zero at noon, up from 4 below - even closed its outdoor ice rink. "The irony is not lost on us," said city spokesman Brian Schwartz.
With a temperature of 12 below zero and wind chill of 31 below, Wisconsin's largest school district, Milwaukee Public Schools, also shut down, idling some 90,000 children. In upstate New York, 34,000 kids got the day off in Rochester because of temperatures near zero. Schools also closed in parts of Michigan and Illinois. A few schools closed even in Minnesota, where February cold is the norm and people are accustomed to coping.
Temperatures dropped below zero in Minnesota on Saturday morning and were expected to remain there until sometime Tuesday, the weather service said. By noon Monday, subzero temperatures had blanketed the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for 58 straight hours - the longest stretch in 11 years.
In northern Minnesota, the temperature crashed to 42 below Monday morning at Embarrass, 38 below at Hallock and 30 below at International Falls, the weather service said.
Veterinarian Wade Himes wasn't too concerned as he ate breakfast at the Shorelunch Cafe in International Falls.
"We get up and go to work, and people come and see us. I don't think anything changes that much. (You) just dress warm," said Himes, 69.
Grand Forks, N.D., also registered 30 below.
"For this time of year, this isn't that unusual, as far as temperatures go," said weather service meteorologist Bill Abeling in Bismarck. "To get record temperatures this time of year in North Dakota, you've got to delve down in the 40-below region, so we're not even close."
Hayward, Wis., fell to 27 below, and wind chills around the state dipped to nearly 40 below.
Amtrak shut down passenger service in parts of western and northern New York state, where the cold was accompanied by as much as 2 feet of snow fed by moisture from the Great Lakes near Buffalo and Watertown. Whiteout conditions and slippery pavement shut down a 38-mile stretch of the New York Thruway during the night.
At least 30 water main breaks were blamed on the cold in Detroit, city officials said.
The cold also brought calls for help from car owners faced with dead batteries and frozen locks.
"During the weekend, 10,000 motorists called for assistance. And that's a record in recent years," Nancy Cain, spokeswoman for AAA Michigan, said Monday.
The cold contributed to two weekend deaths in Kentucky, an elderly man who wandered away from his home Sunday and a motorist whose car slid on ice and overturned in a river, authorities said. An 8-year-old girl and her mother were killed in a wreck on an icy road in Michigan, state police said.