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Midwest Deep Freeze

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Midwest Deep Freeze, A mass of swirling, frigid air sent temperatures plunging across the Midwest on Monday and was headed for the Washington area, where forecasters say thermometers could drop overnight by as much as 40 degrees.

The windchill temperature in Duluth, Minn., was 56 degrees below zero. Far to the south, in Huntsville, Ala., the thermometer read 14 degrees.

Schools in Chicago and throughout Minnesota — jurisdictions that pride themselves on hardiness and great outerwear — were closed for the day. The temperatures were so low — 23 degrees below zero in Minneapolis, 12 below zero in Chicago, 9 below zero in Indianapolis — that officials shuttered local parks and warned that exposed flesh could become frostbitten, tire seals might leak and rock salt would do little, if anything, to melt ice on streets and sidewalks.

Traffic was very light on Minneapolis roads and highways. But the flow of pedestrians was brisk inside the eight miles of climate-controlled skyways that connect the high-rise buildings of the city’s downtown core.

“If you’ve lived here all your life, you grin and bear it — or you take a vacation,” said Keith Rolfzen of south Minneapolis, who does bulk newspaper delivery Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. “On days like this, we Minneapolitans are very appreciative of our skyways.”

Kyle Jensen, a trust operations specialist for Wells Fargo, said his two children wanted to test the cold Monday morning, but his wife was keeping them inside. Jensen said he was headed to work through the skyway system for one simple reason: “Bank’s open today.”

The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities tweeted Sunday that forecasters for the first time were using the designation “particularly dangerous designation” to denote a windchill warning. The phrase is more commonly used to describe severe tornados or hurricanes.

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