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University of Iowa student found dead as polar vortex paralyzes Midwest and Northeast

Polar vortex delivers 3rd sub-zero cold day
Deadly polar vortex delivers 3rd day of sub-zero cold 03:12

At least nine deaths are now connected to the polar vortex that's spreading dangerously cold air and causing major disruptions across the Midwest and Northeast. Nearly 90 million people are in the path of the massive system.

The brutally cold temperatures are bringing life across the Midwest to a grinding halt. Everything from schools to air travel to businesses and utilities are being affected, reports CBS News' DeMarco Morgan. 

Temperatures across the upper Midwest feel 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.

A 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.

The frigid weather is also disrupting air travel this week with more than 2,000 flights already canceled for Thursday and hundreds more delayed. 

Utilities are dealing with a dilemma of high demand. In Minnesota and Michigan, energy companies are asking millions of customers to conserve natural gas to avoid stressing the system.

Michigan's Consumers Energy company asked the big three automakers to suspend operations at their Michigan plants. All complied, including GM, which shuttered 11 plants across the state.

According to the National Weather Service, just 10 minutes outside in -32 wind chill will give you frostbite. But Midwest farmers don't have much of a choice. They have to keep working.

 An 800-acre dairy farm in Goodhue, Minnesota has been in Kenneth Schrimpf's family for three generations. He said the key to working outdoors in this extreme cold is finding ways to adapt.

"Somehow you get the job done," he said. "You warm up, you go outside you get cold, you just go warm up and go back – you're in and out a lot."

By the time this storm passes, the cost to the U.S. economy could be in the billions. The last time the country and businesses faced a polar vortex similar to this one was 2014, and according to one estimate, it cost the U.S. economy an estimated $5 billion.

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