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5 things to know about the deep freeze, which brought record low temps, travel disruptions

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    Commuters arrive at the La Salle Street commuter rail station as they experience temperatures well below zero and wind chills expected to reach 40 to 50 below, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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  • Deep-Freeze-Merguerite-Johnson

    In an imagge made with a fisheye lens, Marguerite Johnston uncovers her car in Grosse Pointe, Mich. Michigan residents are preparing for diving temperatures as they dig out from more than 15 inches of snow in places.

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    Matt Frame brushes off a Buick at Ray Laethem Buick-GMC in Detroit, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Michigan residents are preparing for diving temperatures as they dig out from more than 15 inches of snow in places. Snow wrapped up after starting during the weekend. Roads are slippery, with numerous crashes. In the southern Lower Peninsula, temperatures are to drop late Monday or early Tuesday as low as minus 15. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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    Eli Lopez, of New Bedford, Mass., rests his feet on his luggage while taking a nap after his flight to Puerto Rico was cancelled, at Logan Airport, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Boston. Heavy rains in the East, and sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest, created hovc for airlines and travel plans. Lopez he was rebooked on a flight Thursday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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    A pedestrian makes their way along a snow packed street in Indianapolis Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 as temperatures hovered around 10 below zero. More than 12 inches of snow fell on Sunday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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    Greg Rohde has an ice and snow encrusted beard after commuting to work at the University of Minnesota by cross-country skis along West River Parkway in the frigid -20 weather, Monday, Jan. 6, 2013 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Elizabeth Flores ) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT

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    Daryl Daugherty clears the sidewalk in front of his home, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, as temperatures dropped lower than 10 below zero. More than 12 inches of snow fell on Sunday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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  • Deep-Freeze-Kentucky

    Laurel O'Connor, of Bowling Green, Ky., works to scrape ice off of her windshield before driving, Monday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Bowling Green. Temperatures were expected to plummet further Monday, bringing dangerous cold to parts of the U.S. (AP Photo/Daily News, Alex Slitz)

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  • Deep-Freeze-21

    The Chicago Skyline sits as a backdrop as fog drifts across Monroe Harbor with temperatures well below zero and wind chills expected to reach 40 to 50 below, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Chicago. A whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a "polar vortex" descended Monday into much of the U.S. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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  • Deep-Freeze-Ohio

    A barge moves up a steamy Ohio River, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, past downtown Cincinnati. Temperatures in the area dipped below zero. Frigid, dense air swirled across much of the U.S. on Monday, (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

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  • Deep-Freeze-Tennessee

    Michael Best, right, and others who identified themselves as homeless use donated wood and a fire barrel to keep warm Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Knoxville, Tenn. Monday's expected high temperature in Knoxville of around 24 degrees came hours before dawn, and is expected to fall into the single digits for most of East Tennessee. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Michael Patrick)

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  • Deep-Freeze-22

    A Delta plane is deiced at Chicago Midway International Airport Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Chicago. The bitter weather comes after a heavy snowstorm hit much of the region last week. More than 400 flights were cancelled at Chicago's airports Monday.(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

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Deep-Freeze-Merguerite-Johnson

In an imagge made with a fisheye lens, Marguerite Johnston uncovers her car in Grosse Pointe, Mich. Michigan residents are preparing for diving temperatures as they dig out from more than 15 inches of snow in places.

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CHICAGO — Much of the country grappled Monday with a historic freeze that shuttered schools and businesses at the start of the first full work week of 2014. Flights, trains and bus transportation were disrupted, thousands were left without power and even parts of the country used to fending off hypothermia and frostbite had to take extra precautions as temperatures and wind chills approached record levels.

Here are five things to know about the deep freeze.

1. COLD OUTSIDE? YOU’RE NOT ALONE

Nearly 187 million people, more than half of the nation’s population, were under a wind chill warning or advisory Monday.

The winds made it feel like 55 below zero in International Falls, Minn., and parts of the Midwest accustomed to temperatures that are cold — albeit seldom this cold.

But even the coal fields of Virginia and West Virginia, the wind chill was negative 35.

Every major weather-reporting station in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin reported temperatures below zero at 11 a.m. Monday, and South Dakota would have joined them if not for the reading of 1 at Rapid City.

The coldest temperature reported in a 24-hour period through Monday was -36 degrees at Crane Lake, Minn. The warmest: 84 at Hollywood and Punta Gorda, Fla.

2. FLY AWAY FROM THE WEATHER? THINK AGAIN

More than 3,700 flights — around one out of every 10 domestic departures — were canceled Monday morning, following a weekend of travel disruption across the country. The bulk of those cancellations were in Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Boston.

“It’s been one weather system after another,” said Delta Air Lines spokesman Morgan Durrant. “It’s been a challenging 72 hours.”

With wind chills as low as 45 below zero at some airports, workers could only remain exposed on the ramp for a few minutes. That made loading and unloading luggage a challenge.

JetBlue Airways stopped all scheduled flights to and from New York and Boston. American Airlines said temperatures are so cold at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport that fuel and de-icing liquids were actually frozen. United Airlines said its fuel is pumping slower than normal in Chicago.

Passengers reported long lines at airports as they tried to rebook on other flights. United Airlines had so many phone calls that it was suggesting travelers use its website to rebook.

In recent years, airlines have cut the number of flights to ensure that most of their planes depart full. That’s been great for their bottom line but leaves very few empty seats to rebook stranded travelers. Sometimes, it takes days to get everybody where they should be.

3. GROUND TRAVEL DISRUPTED, TOO

Planes weren’t the only form of mass transportation disrupted by the historic freeze. There also were widespread delays and cancellations in ground transportation — including Amtrak, buses and commuter trains.

Officials with Chicago’s commuter rail, Metra, said there were multiple accidents, including one in which 14 passengers reported injuries — and six were taken to the hospital with minor injuries — after a train hit a “bumping post” at a downtown station.

Weather-related engine problems forced an Amtrak train carrying 200 passengers to stop for more than 8 ½ hours in southwestern Michigan before arriving early Monday morning in Chicago.

And the Southern Illinois men’s basketball team spent the night on a church floor in central Illinois after their bus got stuck in a snowdrift on Interstate 57 following Sunday’s storm.

Drivers didn’t fare much better. A state emergency official said nearly 400 vehicles — including six semis — were stuck for several hours overnight Sunday along a snowy stretch of interstate in southern Illinois.

4. STORM LEAVES THOUSANDS IN THE DARK

Widespread power outages were being blamed on the storm, including in Indiana, where crews worked to restore services for more than 40,000 customers. Utility officials cautioned some people could be in the cold and dark until Thursday.

“Due to the extreme conditions, damage is significant,” Indianapolis Power & Light spokeswoman Katie Bunton said.

State officials said sites without power included the residential portion of the governor’s residence in Indianapolis.

Gov. Mike Pence noted during a news conference Monday that the house has “lots of fireplaces” but urged others without power to go to a shelter if necessary.

The city of Indianapolis evacuated more than 400 residents without heat or power, said Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Mayor Greg Ballard. Many found temporary comfort at warming centers set up around the city, while those needing long-term shelter were sent to the American Red Cross.

Utility officials reported more than 1,600 residents in eastern Missouri also remained without power Monday afternoon.

5. HEIGHTENED FEARS OF FROSTBITE, HYPOTHERMIA

In Chicago, hospital emergency rooms treated patients with frostbite, weather-related asthma and head injuries from falls on ice.

“It’s pretty typical of what we see when it’s this cold,” said Dr. Paul Casey, an ER doctor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Later in the day, the more people are outside working, we may see more cold-related injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia.”

Cook County’s health system encouraged patients to reschedule their non-emergency appointments. Cook County’s Stroger Hospitals treated one homeless man with frostbite, said health system spokeswoman Marisa Kollias.

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