Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Top Story CP

Midwest awaits spring-like thaw just days after bitter cold

Published

7 minute read

CHICAGO — The bitter cold that gripped the Midwest forced commuters to bundle up like polar explorers. By early next week, many of those same people might get by with a light jacket.

Just days after the arctic conditions, forecasts say, the region will seemingly swing into another season, with temperatures climbing by as much as 80 degrees. Experts say the rapid thaw is unprecedented, and it could create problems of its own — bursting pipes, flooding rivers and crumbling roads.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a case where we’ve seen (such a big) shift in temperatures” in the winter, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the Weather Underground firm. “Past record-cold waves have not dissipated this quickly. … Here we are going right into spring-like temperatures.”

Although many places remained painfully cold Thursday, the deep freeze eased somewhat, and the system marched east. In western New York, a storm that dumped up to 20 inches of snow (51 centimetres) gave way to subzero temperatures and face-stinging wind chills. In New York City, about 200 firefighters battling a blaze in a commercial building took turns getting warm on buses.

The number of deaths that could be blamed on the cold climbed to at least 16 after a man was found frozen in his backyard in a Milwaukee suburb on Thursday, the same day temperatures plunged to record lows in several Midwestern cities.

But relief from the bitter Midwestern cold is as close as the weekend. Rockford, Illinois, was at a record-breaking minus 31 degrees (minus 35 Celsius) on Thursday morning but should be around 50 degrees (10 Celsius) on Monday. Other previously frozen areas could see temperatures of 55 degrees (13 Celsius) or higher.

The dramatic warm-up will offer a respite from the bone-chilling cold that cancelled school, closed businesses and halted trains. But potholes will appear on roads and bridges weakened by the freeze-thaw cycle. The same cycle can crack water mains and homeowners’ pipes. Scores of vehicles will be left with flat tires and bent rims.

Joe Buck, who manages Schmit Towing in Minneapolis and spent about 20 hours a day outdoors this week responding to stranded vehicle calls, said he’s already taking calls for Monday to deal with a backlog of hundreds of stalled vehicles.

“Sunday is going to be 39 degrees ABOVE zero,” said Buck, who has had 18 trucks running around the clock in wind chills that dropped to minus 50 degrees (negative 45.5 Celsius).

In Detroit, where some water mains are almost 150 years old, city workers were dealing with dozens of breaks, said Palencia Mobley, deputy director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

The thawing of the pipes can sometimes inflict greater damage than the initial freeze. Bursts can occur when ice inside starts to melt and water rushes through the pipe or when water in the pipe is pushed to a closed faucet by expanding ice.

Elsewhere, a bridge in the western Michigan community of Newaygo, 40 miles (64 kilometres) north of Grand Rapids was closed as the ice-jammed Muskegon River rose above flood stage. Officials in Buffalo, New York, watched for flooding on the Upper Niagara River because of ice.

In other signs that the worst of the deep freeze was ending, Xcel Energy on Thursday lifted a request to its Minnesota natural gas customers to temporarily lower their thermostats to ease concerns about the fuel supply.

Earlier in the day, several cities set record lows, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which set a daily record low of minus 30 degrees (minus 34 Celsius).

Chicago’s temperature dropped to a low of around minus 21 degrees (minus 30 Celsius) on Thursday, slightly above the city’s lowest-ever reading of minus 27 degrees (minus 32 Celsius) in January 1985. Milwaukee’s low was minus 25 degrees (minus 31 Celsius), and Minneapolis recorded minus 24 degrees (minus 31 Celsius). Wind chills were lower still.

Masters, from Weather Underground, said the polar vortex was “rotating up into Canada” and not expected to return in the next couple of weeks. If it does return in late February, “it won’t be as intense.”

Still, memories of the dangerous cold were bound to linger.

In Illinois, at least 144 people visited hospital emergency rooms for cold-related injuries over two days. Most of the injuries were hypothermia or frostbite, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Public Health.

The effect on the overall economy was not expected to be that great.

“It only shows up marginally in the economic data,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, who ended up working from home because her offices in Chicago were shut because of weather.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said one reason the severe cold weather will have less impact is that, unlike a hurricane, people did not lose electric power.

“People may be in their homes, but they can do things such as online shopping,” Zandi said. “Life goes on. It is a disruption to daily life, but it is not a big hit to the economy.”

___

Karoub reported from Detroit. Associated Press writers Martin Crutsinger in Washington; David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Amy Forliti in Minneapolis; Corey Williams and Ed White in Detroit; Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, North Dakota; and Caryn Rousseau and Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this story.

Tammy Webber And Jeff Karoub, The Associated Press









Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

Top Story CP

NewsAlert: Senate gives speedy passage to bill banning conversion therapy

Published on

OTTAWA — The Senate has passed legislation to ban conversion therapy in Canada.

After minimal debate, senators have agreed to fast-track Bill C-4 through all stages of the legislative process and deem it passed.

The move was proposed by the interim leader of the Conservative Senate caucus, Sen. Leo Housakos.

It follows a similar move by Conservatives in the House of Commons last week to speed the bill through that chamber without lengthy debate, committee study or votes.

The bill makes it a criminal offence to force a person to undergo the traumatizing practice of “conversion therapy” aimed at altering their sexual orientation or gender identity.

More than half of the 119 Conservative MPs voted against a similar bill last June, which gave Liberals ammunition to accuse the party of being anti-LGBTQ during the fall election campaign.

More Coming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Top Story CP

Military's former head of human resources charged with sexual assault, indecent acts

Published on

OTTAWA — Military police say they have charged the former head of human resources for the Canadian Armed Forces with one count of sexual assault.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service says Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson has also been charged with one count of indecent acts.

The charges come weeks after Defence Minister Anita Anand announced she had accepted retired Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour’s call to have the investigation and prosecution of military sexual assault cases transferred to civilian authorities.

In announcing the charges against Edmundson, the CFNIS noted Arbour left open the door to leaving investigations in the hands of military police if they are near completion.

Edmundson’s case will proceed through the civilian justice system rather than the military’s justice system. 

Edmundson stepped down as head of military personnel command in March due to a police investigation after a CBC report of alleged sexual assault. He has denied the allegations.

His successor, Lt.-Gen. Steven Whelan, stepped aside in October due to a military police investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct. He has also denied any wrongdoing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Trending

X