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More than 4,000 flights canceled since Tuesday at Chicago airports

Historic cold snap breaking records

More than 4,000 flights have been canceled at Chicago's two international airports amid a deep freeze that brought record cold temperatures to Illinois.

Flight tracking website, FlightAware, said close to 3,300 flights in and out of O'Hare Airport and more than 850 at Midway Airport were canceled between Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon. That's more than half of the scheduled flights for Wednesday and Thursday.

Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation professor at DePaul University in Chicago, said operations should be back to normal by midday Saturday unless snow forecast for Thursday night complicates matters further.

At least nine deaths have been connected to the polar vortex, which brought activity across the Midwest to a grinding halt. Everything from schools to air travel to businesses and utilities were being affected, CBS News' DeMarco Morgan reported.

Temperatures across the upper Midwest have felt like the negative 50s, when factoring in wind chill. For a second day, the U.S. Postal Service is suspending mail delivery in parts of six states and energy companies are asking customers, including major automakers, to dial back their use of natural gas.

From the Midwest, to Boston, whiteout conditions caused havoc on the roads — dropping up to 12 inches of snow in some places.

In Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, at least 27 vehicles were involved in a massive crash that critically injured at least two people.

student at the University of Iowa was found dead outside of a university building, where temperatures dipped to -22 degrees. Officials said weather was a factor.

Explaining the polar vortex sweeping across Midwest, plunging temps to record lows