Bismarck, N.D. — A deadly arctic deep freeze has enveloped the Midwest, forcing widespread closure of schools, businesses, government offices, and prompting the U.S. Postal Service to take the rare step of suspending mail delivery to a wide swath of the region.
Many normal activities are shutting down and residents are huddled inside as the National Weather Service forecast plunging temperatures from one of the coldest air masses in years.
The bitter cold is the result of a split in the polar vortex that allowed temperatures to plunge much further south in North America than normal.
Officials throughout the region are focused on protecting vulnerable people from the cold, including the homeless, seniors and those living in substandard housing. At least four deaths have been linked to the weather system.