Subzero 'polar vortex' pushes frigid air across United States

By Steve Karnowski

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 6 2014 11:07 a.m. MST

"I never remember it ever being this cold," said Davis, 51. "I'm flabbergasted."

Elnur Toktombetov, a Chicago taxi driver, awoke at 2:30 a.m. Monday anticipating a busy day. By 3:25 a.m. he was on the road, armed with hot tea and doughnuts. An hour into his shift, his Toyota's windows were still coated with ice on the inside.

"People are really not comfortable with this weather," Toktombetov said. "They're really happy to catch the cab. And I notice they really tip well."

In downtown Chicago, a commuter train hit a "bumping post" as it pulled into a station, the second such accident of the day. Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said six passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries Monday after the train hit the post at the end of a platform. A less serious incident occurred at the same station around 6:15 a.m., but no passengers were injured.

Continuing a decades-old practice, Chicago Transit Authority was handing out fare cards to social service agencies to be distributed to the homeless so they could ride buses and trains to stay out of the cold.

More than 40,000 homes and businesses in Indiana, 16,000 in Illinois and 2,000 in Missouri were without power early Monday. Indianapolis spokesman Marc Lotter said emergency crews accompanied about 350 people to shelters around the city.

Southern states were bracing for possible record temperatures too, with single-digit highs expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama.

Temperatures plunged into the 20s early Monday in north Georgia, the frigid start of dangerously cold temperatures for the first part of the week. The Georgia Department of Transportation said its crews were prepared to respond to reports of black ice in north Georgia.

Callahan reported from Indianapolis. Associated Press writers Tom Coyne in Indianapolis; Jim Salter in St. Louis; Ashley M. Heher and Don Babwin in Chicago; and Christine Amario in Miami contributed to this report.

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