The polar vortex hitting the U.S. led severely cold temperatures that canceled flights, closed schools and left dangerous conditions around the country.
Thanks for following along with our live updates. We will be continuing our coverage in articles outside of this blog, so please keep reading NBCNews.com.
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.):
#Chiberia Day 2
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.
From Hoth to heat wave?
The COLD continues to ravage the middle and northeastern portions of the country Thursday, with more records falling this morning.
A new all-time record of minus 29 was set in Moline, Illinois, and it’s minus 33 in Aurora, Illinois, (just outside Chicago) Thursday morning. The state record of minus 36F is now within reach. Another 90 daily cold records could be set today!
Right now, 120 million people across 27 states are under wind chill warnings or wind chill advisories, stretching from the Upper Midwest over to Maine and down to part of North Carolina.
Wind chills will not be quite as cold as Wednesday, but are still absolutely brutal across the Midwest and Northeast. Chicago’s wind chill is back down into the minus 40s this morning.
NYC is hovering around 15 below zero.
Chicago once again won’t rise above zero for their high Thursday. They’ve now been below zero for 48 hours. The forecast for Thursday is minus 4. Over in the Northeast, highs will be in the teens.
Thursday’s high with wind chills
NYC: 17/below zero or near zero
Boston: 16/below zero maybe even into the sub-zero teens
DC: 10/minus 3
Minneapolis: minus 23/minus 23
Chicago: minus 20/minus 37
Friday's high with wind chills
Minneapolis: 20/single digits
RELIEF IS IN SIGHT!
A potentially record-setting rebound is about to play out across the Midwest and even part of the Northeast, where temps will jump 40-70 degrees between Wednesday and Sunday.
U.S. Postal Service suspends delivery for another day in some areas
The following locations, broken down by the three-digit zip codes, will not receive mail deliveries on Thursday.
- Michigan: 486-491, 493-499
- Indiana: 460-469, 472-475, 478, 479
- Chicago: 606-608
- Lakeland: 530-532, 534, 535, 537-539, 541-545, 549, 600, 602, 601, 611
- Detroit: 480-485, 492
- Illinois: 601, 603-605, 609, 613, 614, 616, 617, 618, 627
- Northern Ohio (Toledo area): 436
- Western Pennsylvania (Erie, Bradford areas): 164, 165, 167
Source of locations: USPS
Travel ban lifted in upstate New York county
A travel ban issued in an upstate New York County Wednesday afternoon due to 'blizzard-like conditions' was lifted later in the night.
The Genesee County Sheriff's office said it had responded to multiple vehicles that had driven off the road and traffic accidents with injuries in the midst of "blowing and drifting" snow.
The sheriff's office asked that all drivers, besides emergency vehicles, stay off the roads Wednesday afternoon and evening. The ban was lifted at 9 p.m. ET.
Is it OK to ask your employer to stay home in bad weather?
With the weather in most parts of the country dipping below freezing, many people may be asking: Can I stay home from work?
When working from home isn’t an option based on the nature of the position (in the case of say waitstaff or retail clerks), what are the rules? Does the law protect you if you literally can’t make it to work because of the weather? Click here to read what an employment lawyer and a HR consultant had to say.
Yes, it was cold on Wednesday — but it has been much colder
NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins noted that the 48 below zero temperature recorded in Norris Camp, Minnesota, on Wednesday was only two degrees colder than it was in Cotton, Minnesota, on Jan. 20.
It was also nowhere near the state record.
Pittsburgh public schools to close
Due to extremely cold temperatures, we will be closed Thursday, Pittsburgh public schools announced.
Chilly commute: It'll feel like 20 below zero in NYC this morning
It was shaping up to be a frigid day across New York state.
Peter Hall, a meteorologist at NBC affiliate WTSM in Syracuse, highlighted that wind chills were as low as 29 below zero in Binghamton at 4 a.m. ET.
"You can get frostbite in 30 minutes when the wind chill is minus 20 degrees. You can get frostbite in 20 minutes when the wind chill is minus 30 degrees," Hall warned in a tweet.
NBC New York also predicted that commuters in the Big Apple would encounter conditions that felt as cold as the minus 20s on Thursday morning.
Turn down your thermostats is the message in Michigan
A fire has prompted officials to ask Michigan residents and businesses to turn down their thermostats.
Gas flowing from a Consumers Energy site in Macomb County was shut off after a blaze at a compressor station on Wednesday. The firm provides natural gas to 1.8 million customers.
Sally Talberg, the chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, said: "This unfortunate incident happened at a difficult time for our state and we ask that everyone do what they can to make sure there is a plentiful supply of natural gas to keep everyone safe and warm during the extreme cold weather."
She said turning thermostats down "a couple of degrees," blocking leaks around doors and windows and unplugging electronic device when not in use would help.
"We understand the timing of this situation and our request to customers is not ideal given today’s extremely cold temperatures," Consumers Energy said in a statement.
The company added that it was "working with suppliers to bring other gas on through other means."
Some police departments urge criminals to take a break amid deep freeze
Some police departments affected by the deep freeze gripping a large part of the nation have taken to social media to ask criminals to take a break until the weather improves.
The Taneytown, Maryland, police department wrote Wednesday on Facebook: "Those thinking about doing some crime tonight, It's really super cold outside and only getting colder."
"So instead of crime we suggest staying at home and doing the following,” the department wrote, suggesting binge-watching Netflix, reading a book with some hot chocolate, or "Watch old reruns of COPS."
The Warrensburg, Missouri, police department issued a similar plea on Monday, writing, "So...we are asking a favor (at least for the next three days); can you keep the criminalling to a minimum? It is REALLY cold out...do yourself (and us) a favor...stay inside. Be nice to each other, watch reruns of Say Yes to the Dress (we hear from the fire fighters that it's a really good show).”
The Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland, around 20 miles southwest of Taneytown, recorded temperatures of 9 degrees late Wednesday, according to the weather service. Whiteman Air Force Base near Warrensburg recorded 4 degrees Wednesday night.
Postal Service suspends deliveries for Thursday
The United States Postal Service said it would suspend deliveries in certain regions on Thursday due to subzero temperatures.
Service will be interrupted primarily in the Great Lakes region but the agency said it may decide on more regions Thursday morning. The affected areas are in parts of Michigan including Detroit, Indiana, Chicago, central Illinois, northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
University of Iowa student found dead in incident believed to be weather-related
A University of Iowa student was found dead Wednesday in an incident that may be weather-related, according to the university.
Gerald Belz was found unresponsive behind a campus building at around 2:48 a.m. local time (3:48 a.m. ET), according to a statement from the University of Iowa. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
"Losing a fellow student and member of our university family is difficult," the university said. "We encourage our students to reach out if they are in need of support."
Belz was a second-year, pre-medicine major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
As many as eight other people in multiple states are believed to have died due to the weather.
UPDATE: 24 injured, 2 critically, in massive Pennsylvania pileup
Two people are in critical condition in a 27-vehicle pileup on Wednesday in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, police say.
A total of 24 people were injured in the massive crash, according to Wyomissing police.
Police say 15 of the victims were treated at the scene by emergency medical services and the other nine were hospitalized. Two are being treated for critical injures.
Berks County Dispatch said the crash was weather-related but that an investigation will be needed to determine the exact cause.
Otherworldly video captured over Chicago
No, this isn't a scene from the 2004 film, "The Day After Tomorrow." This video was taken in Chicago in 2019.
Instagram user Brent Buck recorded the icy landscape and frozen shores of the city as he flew into Chicago on Wednesday morning. The video captured steam fog rising up over the waters of Lake Michigan as a polar vortex plunged the area into subzero temperatures.
"What negative a billion degrees looks like from the air," Buck captioned the video.
Chicago's temperature dipped to minus 23 degrees Wednesday morning with wind chill below minus 40 degrees. The weather only slightly improved in the afternoon, rising up to minus 15 degrees by 2 p.m. ET.
Zebra unable to find shelter in cold weather dies
A zebra froze to death in Indiana on Wednesday after it couldn't find shelter in subzero temperatures caused by a polar vortex hitting the country.
Carroll County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the animal got caught in the fence of the property where it was being kept and it was unable to get loose, NBC-affiliate station WTHR Channel 13.
The animals owners also have another zebra, a pony and a kangaroo on their property, the sheriff's office said.
26-vehicle pileup in eastern Pennsylvania leaves several injured
Several people were injured after a snow squall sparked at least 26 vehicles to crash in Pennsylvania.
The accident occurred on U.S. Route 222 in Wyomissing at about 1:25 p.m. ET and blocked all southbound lanes on the busy highway. Vehicles involved include at least two big rigs, a dump truck and a large box truck.
Berks County Dispatch confirmed that the accident was weather-related but will have to investigate the exact cause.
At least 17 ambulances were sent to the scene, dispatch said. A Level 2 Mass Casualty Incident was declared meaning up to 25 people could be hurt, NBC Philadelphia reported.
21-car pileup in western New York
A 21-car pileup on Interstate 90 in western New York forced traffic in both directions to be diverted on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
A New York state trooper suffered non-life threatening injuries in the massive collision.
It wasn't immediately clear what, if any role, the weather played. There's a blizzard warning in the area and afternoon temperatures hovered around zero.
Extreme wind chill kills person in Illinois, weather-related deaths now as many as 8
At least eight people in multiple states are believed to have died due to the weather.
Officials in Illinois said one person in Tazewell County died Tuesday because of extreme wind chill in the area.
Two other deaths were reported in Pekin and Libertyville, both in Illinois. The other deaths occurred in Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Stay home: Upstate New York counties order drivers to stay off roads
Two counties in upstate New York have ordered drivers to stay off the roads due to drifting and blowing snow causing unsafe conditions.
The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday around 2:45 p.m. ET that a travel ban has been put in place, effectively immediately.
The ban means all drivers, except emergency personnel, are to stay off roads. The order will remain in effect “until further notice,” the sheriff’s department said in a press release.
“For your safety, and the safety of the residents of Genesee County, please stay home or where you are until conditions improve,” sheriff William Sheron said.
A travel ban was also issued in Erie County on Wednesday afternoon for multiple towns. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet that traveling is prohibited and “all cars must leave roads.” To see if your town is effected by the travel ban click here.
Hell has frozen over — seriously
The low temperature was minus 15 degrees in Hell, an unincorporated community in Livingston County, Michigan. The high temperature was minus 4, prompting some on social media to note that Hell had literally frozen over.
U.S. Postal Service shuts down in Chicago
The United States Postal Service suspended service throughout Chicago on Wednesday to protect employees from the harsh conditions.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this weather related service disruption has caused,” said District Manager Randy Stines. “The safety and well-being of our employees of paramount concern to the Postal Service.”
Tips for keeping your pets safe in the cold
Some pet owners believe animals can stand colder temperatures than humans, which is not always true, and depends on the animal's breed, size, health and age. Here are some tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association to keep your pet safe during the cold spell.
1. Keep your pet inside
Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just like humans, and shouldn't be kept outside when the temperature drops below zero.
2. Check and wipe paws
Pets' paws should be checked for cold-weather injury like cracking and bleeding. Paws, along with legs and bellies should also be wiped after pets are outside for any period of time as they can pick up traces of antifreeze or other de-icing chemicals, all of which can be toxic to animals. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also recommends rubbing petroleum jelly on paws and clipping belly fur to prevent pets from picking up such chemicals.
3. Tag your animal
Pets are more prone to go missing in the winter because snow and ice mask the scents that would usually make it easier for an animal to find its way home. Pets should always, but especially in the winter, have tags or a microchip.
4. Feed your pet a little more in very cold temperatures
Staying warm burns extra calories, so the ASPCA recommends feeding your pet a little more food and giving it more water when the temperatures are very low. But the American Veterinary Medical Association says a higher weight can lead to health risks, so there's no need to overfeed your pet all winter.
5. And before you start the car ...
Cats love hiding near warm car engines during cold weather, but the habit can be deadly. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends drivers honk their horns or make other noise to encourage any refuge-seekers to scurry away before the car engine is started.
Here's how cold and miserable it is
Here's how cold and miserable it was around the Midwest and parts of the East a little after 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET) on Wednesday.
Cliffhanger: Ice covers ridge at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin
This pesky beetle is being put on ice — and that's a good thing
Record-breaking cold in Wisconsin, Michigan and the Great Lakes will yield at least one good result — death to thousands of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle.
For decades now, the beetle has made an all-too-comfortable home in America's heartland, feasting on and killing Ash trees by the thousands. The insect was first imported in wood packing material from China that docked in Los Angeles and was transported by rail to Detroit in the 1980s, scientists have said.
More than 60 percent of the Emerald Ash Borer could be wiped out by this week's cold snap, according to Andrea Diss-Torrance, invasive forest insects program coordinator for Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources. The Emerald Ash Borer will repopulate, but landowners now have a two-year window to remove beetle-damaged trees before they fall or apply anti-beetle treatment to those trees before the insects rebound, according to Diss-Torrance.
"It’ll knock them back, but it’s not going to cause them to be cleared out by any means," she told NBC News.
Welcome to #Chiberia
Deaths of an Indiana man, 59, and woman, 87, investigated as possibly weather-related
Indiana authorities are investigating whether the deaths of two people found outside their homes may be related to the weather.
The body of a 59-year-old man was found in the driveway of his Muncie home on Tuesday morning, according to the Muncie Star Press. An 87-year-old woman was found dead in the driveway of her home in the town of Albany on Saturday. Police have not released their names.
The deaths occurred before Indiana was thrust into the worst of a deep freeze that hit the Midwest on Wednesday, but Delaware County Coroner Rick Howell said they are being investigated as possibly weather-related. Howell said autopsy reports for both people are pending toxicology tests, and foul play was not suspected in their death.
Frigid temperatures and icy weather have been blamed for at least five other deaths:
- In Pekin, Illinois, an 82-year-old man died Tuesday afternoon after he was found suffering from hypothermia outside his home, NBC affiliate WEEK of Peoria reports.
- A man in Libertyville, Illinois, was killed Monday when he was hit by a snowplow at the end of his driveway. NBC Chicago reports that the driver of the snowplow has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
- In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, a man was found frozen in a detached garage near his home. The county's medical examiner's office said the man may have been shoveling snow when he died.
- A 31-year-old man near Des Moines, Iowa, was killed in a car crash Monday on an icy interstate when state patrol said he lost control of his vehicle, struck a light pole and was ejected.
- In Nebraska, a 9-year-old boy died Sunday when the vehicle he was in lost traction on an icy road in Cass County and rolled into a ditch. Iowa State Patrol said five other people were injured in the crash.
Here's where records were broken today
Chicago dipped to -23° this morning with wind chills below -40°.
Many cities in the Midwest set daily record lows this morning, including Indianapolis that tied -11° and Toledo that set a new daily record of -7°. The cold continues Wednesday and into Thursday as arctic air spreads to the Northeast.
While the cold won't be as extreme in the Northeast as it was this morning in the Midwest, temperatures will drop to the single digits and wind chills will be below 0°. More daily record lows could be tied or broken Thursday morning including -7° in Detroit, -15° in Milwaukee, and -5° in Cleveland.
A slow warm-up starts during the day on Thursday and continues into the weekend.
Dangerous lake effect snow
Buffalo is under a blizzard warning through midnight for wind gusts up to 40 mph and dangerously low visibility for hours. A blizzard warning is also issued east of Lake Ontario including Watertown.
Persistent, heavy bands of lake effect snow could produce 3-4 feet of snow around the Tughill Plateau and more than a foot total near Buffalo. Heavy snow lasts into tomorrow and weakens for Friday. Travel will be dangerous or impossible in these heavy bands of snow, in addition to frigid wind chills.
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.
It's too cold for Fiona
'Hamilton' Chicago performances canceled during freezing temps
Brrr killed Hamilton.
Both Wednesday performances of "Hamilton" were canceled in Chicago due to the frigid weather.
The temperature isn't expected to surpass minus 15 degrees in the city on Wednesday, and the expected low is 26 below zero.
A tweet posted on the play's page said ticket holders who expected to see the show Wednesday could exchange their tickets for a future Wednesday performance.
Record low temps stop Wisconsin beer deliveries
Extremely cold temperatures have stopped beer deliveries in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where the minus 30 degree air would cause cans and bottles to freeze inside delivery trucks.
Al Roker to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin: You're a 'nitwit' over school closings
"Today" weatherman Al Roker didn't appreciate Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin accusing America's kids of being "soft" during this cold snap.
"I have to say this nitwit governor in Kentucky saying that, 'Oh, we're weak,'" Roker said Wednesday on "MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin." "These are kids who are going to be in sub-zero wind chills. No. Cancel school. Stop it. Adults, if they want to be out there, that's great. These are our children. I'm glad you're not a teacher."
Bevin had bemoaned "soft" American kids during a radio interview Tuesday and what he believed was a knee-jerk reaction to closing Kentucky schools because of the weather. It was 4 degrees in Lexington just after noon Wednesday.
No dining al fresco for lunch today
At 12:45 p.m. ET much of the continental U.S. was still in a deep freeze.
See the polar vortex in photos
A harsh winter blast from the north is bringing dangerously low temperatures to much of the eastern two-thirds of the country. Click here to see a gallery of the deep freeze taking hold in the U.S.
White Sox jersey left outside freezes in bitter cold temps
A baseball fan in Chicago woke up to his Paul Konerko White Sox jersey frozen solid after it was left outside on a balcony in frigid cold temperatures.
Mushers finish longest dog race in lower 48 states despite feel-like temps of minus 50
Mushers in the the longest dog sled race in the lower 48 states completed the three-day marathon Tuesday and Wednesday despite temperatures dipping 20 below zero.
Mushers and their dogs in the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon trekked 300 miles from Duluth, Minnesota, to Grand Portage, Minnesota, which is about six miles south of the Canadian border. The low temperature in Duluth was minus 21 degrees Tuesday, and wind chills throughout the race made it feel like 50 below zero.
Still, "mushers, race officials and volunteers said that they weren’t stopping," said a statement from the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon organization. "We’re made for this weather” stated one official, according to the statement.
Twelve people and their dogs competed in the race, and more than 500 people were set to volunteer, according to the race website.
The race began Sunday, and by Wednesday, all of the mushers and their dogs were "resting comfortably."
While the humans may have had a difficult time in the cold and "snow drifts that were waist-high in some areas," the dogs thrive in chillier weather, and veterinarians monitoring the race would have been more concerned if temperatures were above 10 degrees, the statement said.
Blake Freking and his wife, Jennifer Freking, took the first and second spots in the race, respectively.
How quickly does frostbite set in?
The first thing you’ll notice even before frostbite is frostnip, a tingling feeling that hurts — your body’s warning sign that you have to warm up that body part quickly. Here's a look at how quickly frostbite occurs based on wind speed and temperature.
It's so cold, you better keep your mouth shut!
It you're unlucky enough to be outside, in the arctic cold of Iowa, keep your mouth shut!
The National Weather Service in Iowa reminded its Hawkeye State neighbors to minimize any outdoor air-to-skin contact on Wednesday.
"Further, make sure your mouth is covered to protect your lungs from severely cold air," the NWS said. "Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking."
It was a frosty 16 below zero in Des Moines a little before 11 a.m. CT.
Power outages in Chicago area
As of 10:30 a.m. CT, approximately 9,300 customers are without power in the Chicago area, mostly in the suburbs.
How to handle the polar vortex
The historic low temperatures are not just uncomfortable, they can pose a serious threat to your health.
Dr. John Torres has written a few tips on how to keep you and your family safe during the brutal cold.
Steam rises from Lake Michigan
A wall of steam was seen rising from Lake Michigan as temperatures in Chicago and the surrounding areas dipped on Wednesday.
Midwest temperature updates as of 11 a.m. ET
Railroad crews in Chicago using fire to keep trains moving
The deep freeze sweeping across the Midwest has railroad crews in Chicago using fire to keep switch points, where trains switch tracks, from becoming packed with snow and ice.
Videos posted on social media show small flames licking the tracks as trains go by.
A spokesperson for Metra, the city's commuter railroad system, told NBC News that the flames come out of switch heaters installed near the tracks and they are turned on during winter months when low temperatures and ice become a hazard for rail service.
If the switch points on the tracks become packed with snow or ice it could lead to train delays, according to a blog post on Metra’s site.
The heaters have been activated mostly at the A2 interlock, which is the busiest rail interlocking in Chicago. The spokesperson said the flames are safe and don’t cause damage to the passing trains.
'Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night' ... but a polar vortex, forget it!
Just a reminder: Much of the upper Midwest will not receive mail service on Wednesday due to the extreme cold.
The United States Postal Service has suspended service for huge swaths of Michigan, Indiana, the Dakotas, and around major cities like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
Click here for updates from the USPS.
Thousands without power in far southwest Wisconsin
Thousands of residents in Grant County, Wisconsin, don't have power on Wednesday morning, police told NBC affiliate WMTV.
It was 26 below zero, with a windchill of minus 52, in Grant County's largest city, Platteville, at 8:30 a.m. CT.
Hundreds of customers were also dark Beloit and Fitchburg Counties, NBC15 reported.
1,800 flights to and from Chicago canceled, 2,000 across U.S.
More than 1,800 flights into and out of Chicago were canceled by 12:30 p.m. CST (1:30 p.m. EST) Wednesday after record-breaking cold was registered at O'Hare International Airport earlier in the morning.
The mercury dropped to minus 16 degrees at O'Hare at about 2 a.m., breaking the previous record low of minus 15 degrees at the airport, according to NBC Chicago. Nearly 1,500 flights into and out of that airport were canceled and another 333 were canceled at Chicago's Midway Airport, according to FlightAware.com.
Across the U.S., in the midst of a sweeping Midwest cold spell, about 700 additional flights were grounded by 1:30 a.m. EST Wednesday.
230 million Americans will endure freezing temperatures on Wednesday
If you want to follow the arctic blast, click here for NBC's livestream of the polar vortex pounding the Midwest and the Northeast on Wednesday.
Chicago will threaten to break its record for coldest day on record, Al Roker told his "Today" audience.
At 9:15 a.m. CT (10:15 a.m. ET), it was an intensely cold minus 21 inching toward the Windy City all-time low of minus 27.