The polar vortex led to extremely low temperatures across the U.S., and especially in the Midwest. According to USA Today, the wind chill reached as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit in Minnesota.
For many government agencies, this means limiting operations. The extreme weather conditions caused the U.S. Postal Service to suspend service for two days in 10 states. Service was resumed for all states on Feb. 1, according to service alerts from the agency.
In preparation for the cold weather, the governors of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin declared emergencies to make state resources available for local governments in need of assistance, reported NPR.
The City of Chicago experienced 52 consecutive hours of sub-zero temperatures, its fourth longest streak on record, reported the Chicago Tribune. As reported by Automotive Fleet, the Chicago area alone saw a 51% reduction in total miles driven by all fleets equipped with Geotab telematics devices.
Dangerous driving conditions lead to a growing need for assistance from law enforcement. On Jan. 30, Illinois State Police tweeted that 1,317 motorist assists were made between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 460 calls for service were answered in eight hours, 10 times the amount on a normal winter day.
The City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County both announced the suspension of non-essential services for two days, reported the Milwaukee Independent, but Milwaukee County Fleet Management and Highway Maintenance would be on call.
In the City of Madison, Wis., the Fire Department had to change the way it responds to calls. For the first time, crews are using dry water pumps to keep hoses from freezing on the way to a call, reported WKOW. Fleet Services remained on call to work on fire trucks and other city vehicles.