MILWAUKEE (AP) — Bone-chilling cold has gripped much of the central U.S. as 2018 opens, breaking century-old records and leading to at least two deaths attributed to exposure to the dangerously low temperatures.
The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories covering a vast area from south Texas to Canada and from Montana and Wyoming through New England. The bitter cold wave enveloped much of the Midwest, yet that didn't deter hundreds of people from ringing in the new year by jumping into Lake Michigan.
Despite sub-freezing temperatures and a warning of potential hypothermia from the local fire chief, throngs of people took part in the annual Milwaukee tradition Monday. But a similar event was canceled from the Chicago lakefront, where the temperature dipped below zero as thick white steam rose from the lake. Organizers said the arctic blast made jumping into the lake too dangerous.
Temperatures plunged below zero elsewhere in the Midwest, including in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where the mercury dropped to a record-breaking minus 32 (-36 Celsius). The previous New Year's Day record had stood for 99 years.
In Nebraska, temperatures hit 15 below zero (-26 Celsius) before midnight Sunday in Omaha, breaking a record low dating to 1884. Omaha officials cited the forecast in postponing the 18th annual New Year's Eve Fireworks Spectacular that draws around 30,000 people.