Sub-zero temperatures in Chicago

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  • Photo of firemen trying to fight the blaze and water turning to ice in the sub-zero temperatures. Photo: John Gress / Reuters

    Fireman struggling to move in his frozen clothing. Photo: John Gress / Reuters

  • Sub-zero temperatures in Chicago
    24.01.2013 16:02


    Whilst the UK is coming to the end of its latest cold spells, parts of America are still bitterly cold. Across north-eastern parts of the USA, temperatures have been at least 5C below average and in parts of New England have been up to 15C below average.

    In Chicago, maximum day temperatures struggled to rise above -11.7C on Monday and Tuesday roughly 7C below the January average. Further north across the Great Lakes close to Green Bay, maximum day temperatures only got to -15.6C on Tuesday, 12C below the seasonal average. The cold temperatures were accompanied by a brisk wind which made it feel even colder when walking around.

    The bitterly cold temperatures are linked with a large high pressure system which has been lingering across the region for the last week. On Wednesday pressure levels got up to 1037mb in Chicago and elsewhere, snuck up to 1040mb. Although the high pressure system that has been affecting this region the last couple of days has moved away today, another is already lingering in west Canada waiting to spread into the region, although is expected to fill as it moves east. 

    There is already snow lying in many of the affected areas leading to very dangerous and icy conditions. On Wednesday in Webster, a school bus slipped off the road and into a ditch, but luckily all 60 children were unharmed and made it to school. In New Hampshire, a ski resort had to shut as the below freezing temperatures made surfaces too dangerous for skiing. 

    The most unusual event to occur due to the sub-zero temperatures was in Chicago. The largest fire for five years occurred in a five-storey warehouse, but as temperatures are so cold, the water from fire houses froze as it came in contact with the outside of the building and turned to icicles (see photo). The 200 firemen that battled the blaze struggled as their ladders turned icy and their clothes became solid and frozen.

    Temperatures in the regions are a little milder today with highs of -5C. However, as the next high pressure system moves in, temperatures are expected to drop again, with more sub-zero temperatures likely for the next week.

    By: Sally Webb