“Ice Age” in the Midwest


The effects of the extreme cold in America shown in the picture.

Geoffrey Dean and Erin McIndoe

In the past week, obscenely cold temperatures have swept through the midwest United States. The temperatures are the lowest the region has seen in nearly 30 years, with Chicago experiencing temperatures colder than that of Antarctica. The region had nearly gone into hibernation as the conditions are too dangerous to remain outside for an extended amount of time. In fact, Michigan has declared a state of emergency due to the severity of the cold.  

The effect of the cold is taking its toll on Chicago’s infrastructure, as the metal train tracks on which the metro system, also referred to as the “L,” have began to contract. In order to counteract this molecular process, the city has began running kerosene soaked ropes along the tracks and lighting them on fire to expand the metal. Furthermore, the transport of beer has been halted as a result of the metal cans exploding under the pressure of the cold. This extreme cold has not gone unnoticed by midwest bound, Green Hope Seniors.  One senior, Cynthia Xiao gave her opinion on the plight: “I am going to UChicago next year, and it’s a shame I can’t carry around a personal heater… instead of worrying about passing my classes I’m going to be worried about not getting frostbite.” While this may sound humourous at first glance, the situation is very real. The polar vortex has been linked to eight deaths in the region, from Minnesota to Michigan to Wisconsin. One of those who lost their lives in the cold was a student at the University of Iowa, who tragically died after being out in the cold for too long. The University cancelled its classes through Thursday as a result of the frigid temperatures.

Subzero temperatures are not unheard of for the region. Green Hope Senior Maddie Purl says, “It’s the coldest it’s ever been in Chicago right now… but subzero temperatures happen every year around this time.”  According to US Climate Data, the average low temperature for January is 18 degrees Fahrenheit (-7.7 Celsius), approximately 13 degrees colder than here in Cary. Purl goes on to say, “We would have ‘cold days’ instead of ‘snow days’” despite the nearly 3 feet of snow the city gets on the average year.  However, it is so cold now that boiling water is freezing in mid air. Oliver Foreman, a Senior who resides Minnesota, stated, “Sometimes you just gotta embrace the suck. It’s like a brain freeze times ten when the wind hits your face.” The effect of the wind is noticeable, making the air feel significantly colder, and making it far more dangerous to be out in the elements.

The weather is hopefully going to get better soon.  In Chicago it will be as high as 52 degrees next Monday afternoon.  The people of Illinois will be happy to not only see the temperature above freezing, but above 50 degrees.  Cary is known for its strange weather, but let’s hope it never gets as weird as a cold snap like the one in the midwest.