Student died after walking outside campus building in -52C wind chill temperatures
A university community are in shock after a student died after walking outside in subzero temperatures in the Midwest USA.
University of Iowa student Gerald Belz (18) was found dead outside a building at the campus early on Wednesday.
The death of the pre-med student was believed to be weather-related.
The young man was discovered at approximately 3am when the wind chill was about minus 52 degrees Celsius.
Belz was rushed to hospital where he passed away. Doctors didn’t find any alcohol in his system, his family said.
Tributes have poured in for the young man, with his dad describing him as a "a momma’s boy with a tough exterior."
"I want people to remember him as a compassionate person,” his dad, Michael Belz, told KCRG news channel.
"He had many more friends than I was aware of."
At least a dozen deaths related to extreme cold weather have been reported since Saturday in Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to officials and media reports.
Classes were cancelled for Wednesday and yesterday for students across the Midwest, including Chicago, home of the nation's third-largest school system, and police warned of the risk of accidents on icy highways.
In a rare move, the US Postal Service appeared to set aside its credo that "neither snow nor rain ... nor gloom of night" would stop its work as it halted deliveries from parts of the Dakotas through Ohio.
Illinois State Police officers rescued 21 people stranded in a charter bus that broke down in sub-zero temperatures along Interstate 55 near Auburn after the vehicle's diesel fuel turned to gel in its engine.
In Detroit, a 70-year-old man was found dead on a residential street, a Detroit police spokeswoman said. About 24km south in the community of Ecorse, a former city councilman in his 70s and dressed only in sleepwear was also found dead.
Streets in Chicago were nearly empty, with few people walking outside in the painfully cold air as temperatures hovered around -28C.
"It's terrible!" Pasquale Cappellano, a 68-year-old waiter, said as he smoked a cigarette while waiting outside for a bus on Chicago's North Side. "I gotta pick up my medication at Walgreens or else I wouldn't be out the door."
In Minneapolis, chilled to -26C, Brian Pierce ventured out to "embrace the elements" and found himself watching cars slipping on the roads.
"The roads sound really weird, it seems there's a lack of grip," he said. "And my teeth hurt."
A forecast for warmer weather by this weekend offered little comfort to those enduring icy conditions, brutal winds and temperatures as low as -34C.
"We have some dangerous wind chills," Andrew Orrison, a forecaster for the National Weather Service, said.
In Minnesota and Upper Michigan, temperatures hit 29C and parts of North Dakota were at -30C.
The bitter cold was caused by displacement of the polar vortex, a stream of air that normally spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole but whose current was disrupted.
It pushed eastward and states including Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania experienced bitterly cold temperatures.
The overnight low yesterday in Boston was -21C.
Videos this week showed boiling water freezing as it was tossed in the air in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and transit workers in Chicago setting fire to train tracks to keep them from locking up.
More than 2,500 flights were cancelled and more than 3,500 delayed yesterday morning, most of them out of Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway International airports.
General Motors Co suspended operations at 11 Michigan plants and its Warren Tech Centre after a utility made an emergency appeal to users to conserve natural gas after extreme cold and a fire at a compressor station.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also cancelled a shift yesterday at two of its plants.