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Deep freeze, polar vortex punish America

By Rhodesia Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Feb 5, 2019 - 11:02:23 AM

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Crews restoring power outages in Illinois Jan. 30. Photo: MGN Online

“Just stay indoors” was a warning that went out all over the Midwest and Northeast from weather experts when temperatures plunged well below zero because of the polar vortex, a mass of freezing air that usually circulates in the artic but drifted southward to the United States, beginning in late January and early February. It’s called a “vortex” because it rotates counterclockwise like a hurricane.

Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New York, North and South Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania were a few of the states heavily impacted by the unusual weather.

Temperatures in Chicago had a high of 10 below zero when treacherous cold moved in and an unprecedented low of 26 below zero hit overnight at one point—making the Windy City colder than the North Pole, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind chills were in the negative 40s and 30s, but felt colder than that, many complained. The previous record low for Jan. 31 in Chicago was 12 below zero in 1985. The all-time record low in Chicago was 27 below zero in 1985.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned the temperatures were life threatening and urged people to be careful. He wasn’t the only one warning residents about the deadly weather. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has been warning for years to watch the weather. Extreme weather is the weapon God will use against the wicked and to punish America for the evil done to Black people, he has warned. Many believe global warming is the root of the worsening climate. However, Min. Farrakhan said, “The God we serve is the master of climate.”

Min. Farrakhan reiterated this fact while speaking to the world in November from Chicago and during a major Detroit speech to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March and the Holy Day of Atonement in October.

Speaking at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater in Detroit, Min. Farrakhan warned that if America did not give justice to the Black descendants of slaves in this country and to Native Americans annihilated by Whites conquering the country, climate calamities and extreme weather would continue, and get worse, with devastating earthquakes that would flatten entire cities, yet to come.

The patriarch of the Nation of Islam, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, taught for decades that God would use the forces of nature—rain, hail, snow, and earthquakes—to pummel and humble America.

Unfortunately, each year, people are losing their lives in natural disasters. At least 21 people were reported dead from weather-related incidents during the polar vortex.

Although people across the Midwest and Northeast regions are accustomed to winter temperatures, barbaric cold sent many to the hospital with frostbite.                                                                                                                                       The National Weather Service warned wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes. They urged anyone who ventured out to cover their mouths and protect their lungs from severely cold air by not taking deep breaths and keep talking to a minimum.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said at least 30 people statewide went to emergency rooms for frostbite or hypothermia-related visits on Jan. 30, the first day of the polar vortex. Days later, Illinois hospitals had treated 144 frostbite victims.

The extreme weather forced school closings, postal service interruptions in nine states, and the cancellation of thousands of flights. 

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, more than 1,700 flights were canceled at Chicago airports with 1,460 flights canceled at O’Hare Airport and 239 flights were canceled at Midway Airport.

Overall, more than 3,000 flights in the U.S. were canceled, according to 

Amtrak cancelled train services from its hub in Chicago. It was restored Feb. 1.

The National Weather Service reported roughly 139 million people in the U.S. were under a wind chill advisory or wind chill warning as of midday, Jan. 30.

Although the weather conditions caused schools, universities, and numerous businesses to close, many people had to report to work.

One twitter user said the cold felt like knives piercing through her skin as she waited for a bus to get to work in Astoria, N.Y., where the temperature had dropped to two degrees above zero.

“It’s scary. The news telling us not to leave our homes or we could get frostbite within minutes,” said Tamra Francis of Minneapolis. “One news reporter said breathing in that sub-zero air could freeze our sinus membrane on the inside of our bodies. It makes me wonder just how much colder can it really get.” The windchill was a negative 19 at one point.

The polar vortex left its mark on several states across the Midwest and Southeastern regions. Six states had colder weather than the South Pole, according to The South Pole registered a low of negative 26 on the morning of Jan. 30. At that time, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois all had colder weather.

The sustained cold taxed energy systems across the Midwest, leading to power failures and urgent calls to customers to reduce the heat in their homes.

Xcel Energy, an electric company in Minnesota, had to ask their customers to reduce their thermostats to 63 degrees or 60 degrees, depending on their location, to preserve energy and avoid overtaxing the system. The company paid for hotel rooms for customers who lost gas supplies in Princeton, Minn., where the temperature was minus 35 on the morning of Jan. 31.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer had to take similar actions in Macomb County after a fire on Jan. 30 at a Consumers Energy facility led to fears of a natural gas shortage.

Due to extremely high demand for natural gas and the record low temperatures, Consumers Energy had to ask customers, who were able, to turn their thermostats down to 65 degrees or less through Feb. 1.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in several counties and advised residents to limit travel and stay indoors after the National Weather Service issued a snow squall warning, a sudden onset of heavy snowfall, along with strong wind gusts.

Conditions worsened when the snow squall swept through the Big Apple right before rush hour causing a whiteout, limiting visibility on city roads with wind gusts as strong as 50 miles per hour just before temperatures plummeted into the single digits. A record breaking 13 inches of snow fell in Buffalo, N.Y., on Jan. 30.

It wasn’t just New York experiencing squalls, according to local reports in Pennsylvania, as many as 40 vehicles crashed during another blinding snow squall. The National Weather Service suggested that people pull over or exit highways before it arrived, but the warning came too late for some.

Countless people posted videos of the snow squalls on social media describing them as beautiful and breathtaking.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in his book “The Fall of America,” said snow looks pretty because of its clean look. Snow is prophesied to be one of the weapons that God will use against the wicked (America), he warned.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad explained in “Fall of America” that snow is of the most dreaded plagues and can have huge drifts of five to 35 feet. “It buries your property and lives. It destroys your highways, your cities, and your concrete and gravel in towns and cities. It puts a great burden of expense upon the cities. It puts a great burden of expense upon the city to repair it,” he said.

Despite efforts to keep folks safe and off the roadways, some couldn’t escape dangers that came with the horrid weather conditions.

In an eight-hour period on Jan. 30, Illinois State police assisted more than 1,300 drivers who were stranded in their cars, about 10 times troopers’ normal workload.

Iowa had several school and university closings, however, 18-year-old Gerald Belz, who attended the University of Iowa, was said to have frozen to death, when his body was found behind an academic hall Jan. 30 by campus police.

The temperature in Wheeling, Ill., was negative nine when a family resorted to dangerous methods to keep warm. Nine people, including a 2-month old infant, were hospitalized for carbon monoxide exposure Jan. 30 after a family used a charcoal grill to increase warmth in their home. Keith MacIsaac, the Wheeling police chief, said if this had occurred at night when people were sleeping, it easily could have resulted in nine fatalities.

By Feb. 2, most city temperatures were in the upper 30s, mid-40s, and some even low 50s.