Foul winter weather and dangerously severe cold paralyzed transit and shuttered schools across much of the United States on Monday, as a “polar vortex” plunged 26 states into a freeze the likes of which they hadn't seen in decades. Schools were closed from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, and even in cold-hardy Minnesota, whose governor ordered all schools statewide shuttered, the first time that had happened in 17 years. Thousands of flights were cancelled nationwide, too, more than 1,600 of them at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and JetBlue – still reeling from weekend delays from snowstorms – took the extraordinary step of grounding all flights overnight at four of the country's biggest airports. The cold also forced the suspension of some Amtrak high-speed service between Philadelphia and Baltimore, and amid all the travel woes, the Senate even pushed back a planned vote on unemployment benefits to Tuesday morning.
A man shovels snow on the sidewalk in Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. Sunday night temperatures will drastically drop to about minus 20 degrees. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Monday, Jan 6, 2014 Updated at 7:07 PM PDT