CHICAGO — A deep, brutal cold set in across the Midwest on Wednesday, sending temperatures plummeting to depths that stunned even Midwesterners, a group accustomed to shrugging off winter. The cold that seized the middle of the country was the sort that makes cars moan, that makes breathing hurt, that makes any bit of exposed skin sting.
Cities like Chicago had been preparing for the deep freeze for days, so when it arrived, much of life had come to a standstill. Colleges and schools were closed all around, and even the United States Postal Service had stopped deliveries in some places. Workers were sent home, meetings canceled, parties called off.
And the worst of the blast was still to come: Forecasters said temperatures would drop again after sunset on Wednesday, and that Chicago might even break its record low of minus 27. The outlook for Thursday was different but still grim: slightly warmer temperatures — and snow.
• Temperatures plummeted and could break records. Minneapolis dipped as low as minus 28, with the wind chill reaching minus 53, the National Weather Service said. Chicago got to minus 23, with a windchill of minus 50. And Milwaukee hit minus 20, with a wind chill of minus 47.
• As many as eight deaths have been reported to be connected to the Midwest’s dangerously cold weather system, according to The Associated Press, including a man hit by a snow plow in the Chicago region, a man believed to have frozen to death in a Milwaukee garage, and a couple killed in a vehicle accident on an Indiana road.