Schools closed in Canada and mid-Western US over freezing Arctic cold

A bone-chilling cold wave with temperatures as low as 42 below zero Fahrenheit (-41 degrees Celsius) forced an extreme weather alert in Canada for the second day Monday, and was linked to at least five deaths in the midwestern United States.

In Canada, officials continued the alert after temperatures dropped to dangerous levels that could cause frostbite if skin is exposed for as little as 10 minutes.

After an unusually mild early winter in which springlike weather prompted many people to put away their heavy woolens, much of Ontario and Quebec was entrenched in a deep freeze for the third consecutive day, and many schools in the middle of the U.S. in the Plains and Great Lakes regions were closed down.

Some Canadian urban centers, including London and Toronto, have declared extreme cold-weather alerts in which city officials have tried to convince homeless people to use shelters.

It was so cold in Toledo, Ohio 5 above zero F (-15 degrees C) at noon, up from 4 below F (-20 Celsius) even closed its outdoor ice rink. "The irony is not lost on us," said city spokesman Brian Schwartz.

With a temperature of 12 below zero F (-24.44 C) and wind chill of 31 below F (-35 C), Wisconsin's largest school district, Milwaukee Public Schools, also shut down, idling some 90,000 children. In upstate New York, 34,000 children got the day off in Rochester because of temperatures near zero degrees F (-18 C). Schools also closed in parts of Michigan and Illinois. A few schools closed even in Minnesota, where February cold is the norm and people are accustomed to coping.

Temperatures dropped below zero F (-18 C) in Minnesota on Saturday morning and were expected to remain there until sometime Tuesday, the weather service said. Subzero temperatures (temperatures below -18 C) blanketed the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for 63 straight hours the longest stretch since 2004 ending Monday afternoon.

In northern Minnesota, the temperature crashed to 42 below F (-41C) Monday morning in the town of Embarrass.

The cold contributed to two weekend deaths in Kentucky: an elderly man who wandered away from his home Sunday and a motorist whose car slid on ice and overturned in a river, authorities said. An 8-year-old girl and her mother were killed in a wreck on an icy road in Michigan, state police said. The body of a 47-year-old man was found outdoors in Ravenna, Ohio, and authorities said drunkenness contributed to his death.

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