CHICAGO – The arctic air mass that froze water pipes in Minnesota this weekend is sticking around in some parts of the upper Midwest.
El Nino brought about a mild winter at the beginning, but a blast of dangerously cold temperatures moved east across the Northern Plains and Great Lakes on Sunday.
Temperatures bottomed out at 36 degrees below in Fosston in northwest Minnesota. It was so cold in western Minnesota that traffic lights went dark Sunday morning in Montevideo when a transformer blew, and in northern Minnesota, one homeowner's bid to thaw pipes caused a fire that led to $37,000 in damage, WDIO-TV reported.
Meanwhile, parts of Illinois were in the single digits Monday, the second day with such frigid air. It was the same in southern Indiana, where officials trying to stem the spread of a bird flu virus in turkey farms ran into problems when a hose that sprayed a poultry-suffocating foam froze.
Many cities sought to ensure no one succumbed to the cold. The Indianapolis Star reported that the state Department of Homeland Security would send anyone needing shelter from the weather Sunday and Monday to a Salvation Army facility.
But in Wisconsin, authorities said a 21-year-old woman likely died of exposure to subzero temperatures in Milwaukee; medical examiners said she was apparently intoxicated when she left a house party. Surveillance video showed she collapsed outside of a residence and a passer-by found her.
Snow accompanied the drop in temperatures in northern and western Michigan, where up to 16 inches of snow fell over 24 hours in Honor and Traverse City received 10 inches. A march in honor of Martin Luther King Day was canceled in Grand Rapids because of road conditions.
Some reprieve from the cold is expected in the Midwest later in the week, with Chicago expecting to jump into the comparatively balmy 30s by Thursday. But the sub-freezing temperatures were moving eastward, the National Weather Service said, taking aim at the Ohio Valley and areas of the Appalachians.