The New York Times writes:
Emerging research suggests that a warming Arctic is causing changes in the jet stream and pushing polar air down to latitudes that are unaccustomed to them and often unprepared. Hence this week’s atypical chill over large swaths of the Northeast and Midwest. Friederike Otto, an Oxford University climate scientist who studies how specific weather events are exacerbated by global warming, said that while not all of these extreme events can be attributed to climate change, the profound changes in the earth’s atmosphere raise “the likelihood of a large number of extreme events.”
Indeed, the blast of frigid arctic air sent temperatures plummeting across the Chicago area. Even before 2 a.m., Wednesday had set a record low for Jan. 30, descending to 16 degrees below zero and beating a low temperature of minus 15 set in 1966. By 7 a.m., temperatures were down to minus 23 at O’Hare International Airport, with wind chill of 52 degrees below zero there, according to the National Weather Service.
Other areas saw wind chills as low as 50 below zero by early Wednesday. West of Chicago, Dekalb recorded wind chills of 54 degrees below zero by 6 a.m.
The U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak suspended service, and schools in the Midwest closed through Thursday.
“Today’s about as cold as it can get in Chicago,” said Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.