'Cold as ºF': Chicago residents make best of life in 'Chiberia' during polar vortex

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In “Chiberia” – as locals have dubbed Chicago as temperatures have plummeted to -23F (-30C) – it is cold enough to freeze an egg on the sidewalk. Or to turn a bubble blown outside into a beautiful frosty snow globe before it splinters with the cold.

A blast of polar air has swept across many cities in the US leading to the lowest temperatures in a generation. Schools and businesses have closed, flights have been cancelled and as of Wednesday evening, at least eight deaths had been linked to the system.

Chicago isn’t the only city hit by the low temperatures, or the coldest, with the temperature dropping to -42F (-41C) in Park Rapids, Minnesota.

While the extreme cold is miserable for many, some have been trying to find a bright side. In Chicago, residents have posted photographs on social media showing just how freezing life has become.

Stacy St. Clair
(@StacyStClair)

Because Pulitzers don’t win themselves, @MorGreene and I braved to elements to prove it’s cold enough to freeze an egg on a Chicago sidewalk today. https://t.co/YxjMqzBXYS


January 31, 2019

Local news outlets have made their reporters brave the elements to test whether an egg placed in a frying pan at these temperatures would freeze – the opposite of frying an egg on the sidewalk in extreme heat, which the Guardian Australia team found required hotter temperatures than you might expect.

“Cold as ºF,” was the headline on the Loyola Phoenix, the official student newspaper of Loyola University in Chicago and on Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune ran sage weather-related advice on its front page: “Expert: avoid being outside”.

Loyola Phoenix
(@PhoenixLUC)

On your day off from school, curl up with this week’s issue of The Phoenix! pic.twitter.com/05rBwQjWW6


January 30, 2019

Franklin Lopez
(@trueblue51)

Today’s Front Page of Chicago Tribune (https://t.co/FQYVlMg3tN) via @Newseum #TFP https://t.co/kfafiuzhtg pic.twitter.com/64TpeubYCN


January 29, 2019

But many ignored the expert warnings and ventured into the cold to attempt the “boiling water challenge”, which saw people throw pots of boiling water into the air, which froze before hitting the ground.

Jake Chapman
(@runvc)

At Alpha Bridge we do hard technical diligence. When I heard -50 degrees in Chicago meant boiling water turns to snow before it hits the ground, I sent @HowieDelicious to verify. Nothing is too dangerous or unpleasant for me to make Howie do it. Send your suggestions… pic.twitter.com/A9egAU1h4N


January 31, 2019

Charles Croucher
(@ccroucher9)

How cold is it in Chicago at the moment….? pic.twitter.com/U3wJnHZwFY


January 31, 2019

Others posted videos of bubbles blown outside, which freeze into gorgeous baubles before cracking, or of their fork suspended in mid-air by a waterfall of frozen noodles. The hashtag #DogsofChiberia was created, showing pets rugged up in custom puffer jackets, hats and booties so they could survive a trip outside.

Videos also circulated that appeared to show train tracks across Chicago on fire. The fires, which actually run next to the rails, are used by Metra, the Chicago-area commuter rail, to make the rails expand in an attempt to avoid cracks forming and switches clogging.

Jalopnik
(@Jalopnik)

Chicago is so ridiculously cold that the railroad tracks need to be on fire to keep the trains moving.https://t.co/sALHCcAias pic.twitter.com/qN8CCzkSX7


January 30, 2019

Temperatures in Chicago were expected to fall into the -20s F (-30s C) again on early Thursday, but should warm up to the comparatively balmy 20Fs (-7 to -2C) by Friday.

Gizelle Marie
(@ComplianceRebel)

We didn’t choose the Chiberia life, the Chiberia life chose us 🥶#chiberia #dogsofchiberia pic.twitter.com/1VjqZBIpd4


January 31, 2019



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