Aside from the risks to human safety, the extreme cold weather system that has affected much of the Midwest over the past few days has taken a heavy toll on infrastructure, interrupting water service, knocking out electricity, and halting transportation. In Detroit, persistent subzero temperatures caused more than two dozen water mains to burst; customers were connected to other mains to keep their water service from being interrupted. In terms of energy, not only are demands higher on electricity and gas systems as more people stay indoors and turn up their heating, but the icy and windy weather is straining generating stations and transmission lines. Thousands have experienced power outages, with dozens in one Minnesota city losing heat in the middle of the night as the temperature plunged to minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit. At one point on Wednesday morning, 50,000 homes and businesses in Illinois were without power, mostly in the towns and cities north and south of Chicago. And in both Minnesota and Michigan, state and utility officials warned residents that they risked brief interruptions of natural gas service if they didn’t help reduce energy. Amtrak canceled scores of trains to and from Chicago, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs. Hundreds of flights in the region have also been canceled. Read the articles at the AP and the Washington Post.
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