Former World War II refugee — now Chicago resident — knows what cold means
At noon Wednesday, it was 16 below zero in Chicago — and as 96-year-old Zofia Biernadski looked out the window at the frozen city, she was instantly reminded of the winter of 1940.
Earlier that year, the then 17-year-old Biernadski and thousands of other Poles had been rousted from their homes by the Soviets and deported by boxcar to what’s now Kazakhstan.
“It got down to 40 below zero and I remember I could feel the cold in my bones,” Biernadski told NBC News. “I had the jacket on that I was wearing in April when the soldiers ordered us out of our homes, I made some hose to cover my legs from an old sweater, and I sewed a skirt and a kerchief from this thick material our maid gave me before they put us on the train. That saved my life, but I was still unbelievably cold. It was so cold my breath would instantly turn to ice. If you stayed out too long, you died.”
So Biernadski has great sympathy for anybody venturing into the Chicago cold.
“It’s like Siberia out there,” she said.
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Good Samaritan offers to pay for hotel rooms for 70 homeless people in Chicago
While residents in Chicago hunker down indoors during the Polar Vortex, one good Samaritan offered to help shelter 70 homeless people after the Chicago Fire Department had to confiscate nearly 100 propane tanks that were donated to the group to keep them warm.
Officials with the fire department said the tanks had to be taken away after one exploded.
The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division in Illinois was contacted by the fire department about the group and were in the process of making arrangements for them to go to a warming center when the fire department told them that someone had offered to help by paying for hotel rooms.
Jacqueline Rachev, a spokeswoman for the organization, said she is not sure of the person’s identity.
The anonymous good Samaritan isn’t the only person trying to help the homeless during the deep freeze. Khloe Thompson, an 11-year-old girl in California, started a GoFundMe account Tuesday to raise money for Chicago’s Salvation Army, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
As of Thursday afternoon, the GoFundMe had raised more than $48,000.
“I’ve watched the news about the polar vortex and I’ve seen how cold it’s getting across the country, especially in Chicago,” Thompson said in the GoFundMe. “The homeless population needs our help."
More than 1,700 flights canceled Thursday at Chicago’s main airports
More than 1,700 flights were canceled Thursday at Chicago's main airports.
At least 1,479 cancellations and 90 delays were reported at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as of 1:45 p.m., according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. There were 258 cancellations at Chicago Midway International Airport. Delays at both airports were less than 15 minutes for flights still operating, the Chicago Department of Aviation reported.
Relief is coming: Temperatures to rise drastically
Relief is coming.
Some regions affected by the polar vortex are going to feel downright balmy in just a few days.
"There‘s going to be a 60 degree temperature rise" in some areas of the Midwest, said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather predictions center. "It is pretty remarkable," he said.
- Chicago, where the mercury fell to minus 22 Wednesday, can expect temperatures in the 50s on Monday.
- In Minneapolis, the low temperature was minus 28 on Wednesday, but by Sunday the high is forecast to be 45 degrees.
- Bismarck, North Dakota, suffered through a minus 33 low on Wednesday. On Friday, the temperature is expected to rise to 37 degrees.
- Detroit saw a low temperature of minus 12 on Wednesday, but Saturday could bring a high of 37.
- Des Moines, Iowa, dipped to minus 20 degrees on Wednesday and is forecast to see a high of 45 degrees on Saturday.
Carbin said that following this "pretty dramatic turnaround," temperatures are expected to fall again later in the week. But don't worry. "It’s not going to be quite as cold," Carbin said.
Two children, 3 and 5, left outside their Illinois apartment in the cold
Two young children in Illinois were found walking alone outside of their apartment building in the freezing temperatures, a spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
The children, a 3-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl, were found just after 2 p.m. Wednesday in the village of Arlington Heights. One child wasn’t properly dressed for the weather, the sheriff’s department said in a press release.
Temperatures Wednesday afternoon dropped to around minus 12, according to the National Weather Service.
Both children were crying and “had some skin redness” when they were found. They were taken to a local hospital to be treated for weather-related injuries.
“They appear to be OK,” a spokesperson said.
The sheriff’s office said it is investigating why the children were left out in the cold. So far, no arrests have been made.
Kansas mother arrested for allegedly leaving toddlers in car with no heat
A 26-year-old mother in Lawrence, Kansas, was arrested early Wednesday morning for allegedly leaving her children, ages 2 and 3, in a car with no heat, the Lawrence Police Department said in a tweet.
The woman, whose name was not released, was allegedly kicked out of the Playerz Sports Bar around 1:40 a.m., the department said in a press release.
Police were called when the woman tried to get back into the bar.
By the time police arrived, the woman had left the bar in her car but officers later found her. She was arrested on charges of aggravated endangering a child and operating a vehicle under the influence.
Authorities said the children, who were not injured, were left in the cold car "for a substantial amount of time." Temperatures in that area Wednesday morning was around 5 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
"We can’t stress enough how dangerous this cold is. Please take proper precautions, and use common sense," the police department said in a tweet.
Amazon closes some buildings, including fulfillment centers across the Midwest
Amazon said it closed some buildings, including fulfillment centers across the Midwest.
“We work hard to deliver on our fast, free shipping promise, but weather conditions are out of our control,” Amazon said in a statement. “Customer service is available to work with any customer who is experiencing an issue.”
Fire and ice: Wisconsin fire chief covered in ice after battling blaze
By the time the chief of the Cameron Fire Department in Wisconsin finished battling a house fire, he was covered in snow and ice. It was so cold in Wisconsin on Wednesday morning that the water from the fire hose that splashed on the chief turned to an icy mix.
The temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast as of 11:15 a.m. ET
The deep freeze isn't over just yet. Here's the latest in cities across the Midwest and Northeast as of 10:15 a.m CST (11:15 a.m.):
Polar vortex sticks in Midwest, spreads to Northeast: Here are the temps at 9 a.m. ET
The cold weather didn't let up Thursday morning as the misery polar vortex spread to the Northeast.
Here's how cold it was as people commuted to work at 8 a.m. CST (9 a.m. EST) Thursday.