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U.S. Midwest cities seeing ‘life-threatening’ cold — trains cancelled, mail service suspended

A polar vortex brought life-threatening cold to the eastern U.S. on Tuesday with temperatures reaching as low as -50 F, or -45 C, in Chicago, with officials warning people stay inside and cover as much skin as possible if going outside.

The weather is so cold across parts of the U.S. Midwest right now that some cities are set to hit temperatures that they’ve never experienced before — or close to them.

That’s according to the National Weather Service, which has warned that residents of certain cities could contract frostbite in as little as five minutes if they don’t protect themselves.

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Toronto residents bust out the skis as winter storm dumps over 40 cm of snow
Toronto residents bust out the skis as winter storm dumps over 40 cm of snow

As of Tuesday night, there were cities in at least three states that were set to see cold as they rarely — or never — have before.

READ MORE: It’s getting so cold in parts of southern Ontario, there’s a risk of frostbite

They included the Wisconsin cities of Madison and Kenosha, which were expected to have wind chills as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (-48 degrees Celsius).

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This, said the NWS, would be “close to all-time record cold.”

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Elsewhere, record low temperatures were expected in Minnesota’s Twin Cities/Chanhassen area, which includes the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

There, wind chills were projected to fall as low as 65 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (-54 degrees Celsius) through Wednesday afternoon, and to stay under 35 degrees below zero (-37 degrees Celsius) up to Thursday morning.

WATCH: Polar vortex strikes U.S. Midwest, causing ‘life-threatening’ cold

Polar vortex strikes U.S. Midwest, causing ‘life-threatening’ cold
Polar vortex strikes U.S. Midwest, causing ‘life-threatening’ cold

Not to be spared the bitter cold, the Cleveland, Ohio region was set to see temperatures that hadn’t been experienced in 25 years.

There, in an area that includes the cities of Cleveland, Akron and Toledo, the NWS foresaw Wednesday’s highs staying below zero in numerous locations for the first time since January, 1994.

Meanwhile, Wednesday and Thursday morning’s temperatures were to be the “lowest that the region has felt since February 2015 and could break daily records by several degrees.”

READ MORE: Why can’t I use my cell phone out in the cold?

Those weren’t the only cities where the cold presented such a risk, however.

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In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned of “life-threatening conditions and temperatures,” adding, “while the snow may be ending, the cold is just starting.”

Conditions are so extreme in the city that Amtrak has cancelled all train service there, NBC5 reported.

And right he was to warn people: the Windy City was expected to see wind chills as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (-51 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, before improving to a low of -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-46 degrees Celsius) through Thursday morning.

The wind chills there could cause frostbite on exposed skin within five minutes, the NWS warned.

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“Frostbite can occur quickly and even hypothermia or death if precautions are not taken,” the NWS said.

Chicago, however, wasn’t alone in potentially seeing frostbite take hold in five minutes.

There were similar warnings for cities including Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Fargo, N.D. and Duluth, Minn.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has suspended delivery in numerous states that have been affected by the weather, including Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, as well as the Dakotas, Nebraska and western Pennsylvania, CBS News reported.

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