TIME weather

More Cold Weather Is On Its Way

Commuters make their way to work as temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit during the morning rush on January 5, 2015 in Chicago
Commuters make their way to work as temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit during the morning rush in Chicago on Jan. 5, 2015 Scott Olson—Getty Images

Wind chill readings are expected to hit -25 to -45 in some areas

More frigid weather is expected across the Midwest and into the Northeast on Wednesday, with officials calling on residents to take all necessary precautions.

The National Weather Service warned late Tuesday that blasts of arctic air from the north will bring “bitterly cold weather from the western High Plains to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.” The agency reported that subzero overnight lows were forecast for the Dakotas, Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and New England throughout Tuesday evening.

“Wind chill advisories and warnings are in effect for many of these same areas, with some of the coldest wind chill readings in the -25 to -45 degree range” said the agency.

Wind chill warnings were issued this week in at least 17 states across the Great Plains to the East Coast after heavy snowfalls covered the region on Tuesday, snarling traffic and causing the cancelation of hundreds of flights, according to the Weather Channel.

In Chicago, authorities announced the closure of public schools throughout the city on Wednesday as temperatures are expected to fall below zero with wind chills up to 40 below.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on New Yorkers to be mindful of their neighbors and begin preparing for the winter storm.

“The city will deploy all tools at its disposal to reach our most vulnerable populations — the elderly, people with medical challenges, the homeless — but we ask our fellow New Yorkers to help,” said the mayor in a statement.

Temperatures are expected to drop to 9 degrees in New York City on Wednesday night, with wind chill values averaging between zero and -15 degrees.

Further north in the Great Lakes region, more snow is expected to blanket much of the same area that was hard hit by the record snowfall in late November that killed at least 13 people.

“The heaviest snow is likely to occur east of Lakes Erie and Ontario, where local amounts will easily exceed one foot,” read a report released by the National Weather Service.

Read next: Extreme Cold Closes Chicago’s Public Schools

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME weather

Extreme Cold Closes Chicago’s Public Schools

Charles Martinez looks over the partially frozen Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline on Jan. 5, 2015.
Charles Martinez looks over the partially frozen Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline on Jan. 5, 2015. Jim Young—Reuters

Hundreds of schools will be closed Wednesday

Chicago Public Schools announced Tuesday that classes on Wednesday had been canceled due to an extreme cold blast.

School buildings will still be staffed and open for any students who do show up, with administrative staff and building engineers available, according a statement released by the country’s third-largest school district, which serves nearly 400,000 students in 664 schools.

Temperatures in the area are expected to drop below zero into Wednesday with wind chills up to 40 below, the National Weather Service said, which makes it cold enough to cause frostbite on exposed skin within 15 minutes.

“The safety and well-being of our students comes first,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in the statement. “The frigid temperatures and winds make a dangerous combination, and it is in the best interest of our students to cancel classes.”

The district’s closure on Wednesday means it’ll join more than 125 other school districts, according to the Chicago Tribune. The full list can be found here.

Subzero temperatures last January similarly led officials to close the city’s schools for four days.

TIME weather

Winter Storm to Bring 2,000 Miles of Snow to Eastern U.S.

Lawmakers Convene For Opening Of The 114th Congress
Cars drive through falling snow on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 6, 2015. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Winter storm warnings in effect in 22 states

A winter weather system that was on pace to dump snow along a 2,000-mile corridor was set to snarl the morning commute for millions as it moved east on Tuesday morning, forecasters warned.

A plethora of winter watches, warnings and advisories were in effect for 22 states from Washington to New Jersey. The storm caused transport chaos in the Midwest on Monday, hitting Chicago with five inches of snow and canceling and delaying hundreds of flights.

The snow has been making its way from the Northwest since the weekend and promised a messy Tuesday morning for motorists in Philadelphia, Washington…

Read more from our partners at NBC News

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Morning Must Reads: January 5

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

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TIME weather

Arctic Blast Brings Icy Chill to Millions in U.S.

Snow Storm US
A man walks through heavy snow in Denver on Jan. 3, 2015. Brent Lewis—Denver Post/Getty Images

"It's going to be bitter," one meteorologist says

A bitter barrage of icy air is set to chill the eastern two thirds of the United States in some of the coldest temperatures so far this winter, forecasters warned. The second arctic blast in a week is expected to start in the Upper Plains on Tuesday, moving to the Midwest on Wednesday and the Northeast on Thursday. Meanwhile, a winter storm that formed in the Northwest on Sunday was forecast to dump snow along a 2,000-mile-long corridor from Montana to Ohio through Tuesday.

Kevin Roth, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel, said Chicago would likely not see temperatures above zero on Wednesday…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Aviation

Divers Struggle to Find Bodies and Black Boxes From AirAsia Crash

The body of an AirAsia QZ8501 passenger is carried to an ambulance after being transported from a ship by a U.S. Navy helicopter from the USS Sampson at the airbase in Pangkalan Bun
The body of an AirAsia QZ 8501 passenger is carried to an ambulance after being transported from a ship by a U.S. Navy helicopter from the U.S.S. Sampson at the air base in Pangkalan Bun, in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan, on Jan. 4, 2015 Darren Whiteside—Reuters

Only 37 bodies have been found and investigators believe most of the dead are still underwater strapped into their seats

The AirAsia salvage operation shifted Monday to focus on recovering the aircraft’s flight-data recorders, otherwise known as black boxes, but blustery weather continues to undermine search efforts in the Java Sea.

Only 37 bodies have so far been recovered from the 155 passengers and seven crew aboard Flight QZ 8501, which vanished from radar 42 minutes after departing Indonesia’s second city of Surabaya bound for Singapore early Dec. 28.

According to Suryadi B. Supriyadi, director of operations at Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (known by its Bahasa Indonesia acronym Basarnas), at least five ships with black-box pinger locators have been dispatched to where four large objects, believed to be wreckage from the plane, were spotted by sonar.

Once triangulation of black-box signals has been achieved, and conditions sufficiently improve, a team of more than 80 deep-sea divers will be deployed to get visual confirmation. On Sunday, divers had to abandon their forays after being confronted with near-zero visibility in the murky depths.

“If it cannot be done by divers, we will use sophisticated equipment with capabilities of tracking underwater objects and then will lift them up,” Supriyadi told reporters, according to the Associated Press.

Locating the black boxes is crucial to determining what made the twin-engine Airbus A320-200 crash, though severe weather is still presumed to be key factor.

“The most probable weather phenomenon was icing, which can cause engine damage due to a cooling process,” said a preliminary report on the website of Indonesia’s meteorological agency.

However, Mike Daniel, a Singapore-based aviation expert with more than three decades experience with the U.S. Federation Aviation Administration, thinks this is only one of “two different and distinct scenarios.”

“If they find the flight data recorders, it would show if icing is a factor,” he tells TIME. “But my sense is that with the strong storm cell updrafts reported by the meteorological folks that there may be more focus on high-altitude flight upset, as opposed to unreliable airspeed indications due to icing.”

The last cockpit contact between Captain Iriyanto and Indonesian Air Traffic Control occurred when the highly experienced former Indonesian air-force pilot requested permission to change direction and climb from a cruising altitude of 32,000 ft. to 38,000 ft. in order to avoid severe weather. The first request was granted, but the aircraft was only permitted to ascend to 34,000 ft. as there was traffic above.

On Sunday, Basarnas recovered four more bodies as well as more debris believed to be from the aircraft, including the emergency-exit window, some luggage, passenger seats and survival kits, AirAsia said in a statement.

AirAsia has still not responded to claims by Indonesian officials that Flight QZ 8501 did not have permission to fly on the Surabaya to Singapore route on the Sunday it crashed.

“The regulator requires further evaluation on the route, and AirAsia will be fully cooperative throughout the process,” AirAsia spokeswoman Malinda Yasmin said via email.

Indonesian aviation authorities have postponed all Surabaya-to-Singapore AirAsia flights in the meantime, although their Singaporean peers told Agence France-Presse on Sunday that the route was approved at the Singapore end.

Thirteen of the 37 bodies recovered to date have been identified. The remains of flight attendant Wismoyo Ari Prambudi, 24; passengers Jie Stevie Gunawan, 10; and Juanita Limantara, 30, were returned to their families Sunday.

Read next: For the AirAsia Bereaved, the New Year Brings Nothing but Grief

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TIME weather

Dangerously Cold: Bitter Temperatures to Blast U.S.

Bad Weather Driving
Dan Barnes—Getty Image

Dangerously cold arctic air masses are due to move across the U.S. starting on Sunday, forecasters warned, bringing the bitterest temperatures so far this winter. Wintry weather on Saturday led to numerous accidents in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio due to snow and ice. Severe storms heavily damaged mobile homes and downed power lines and trees in Mississippi, with two tornadoes confirmed in the state.

Bitter temperatures will sweep the U.S. on Sunday with the first arctic mass set to target the Plains and Great Lakes region and last through Monday…

Read more about this story from our partners at NBC News

TIME weather

Ready to Shiver? Arctic Air to Put America on Ice

West Texas Flooding
A truck drives through flooded roads in Odessa, Texas, Jan. 2, 2015. Edyta Blaszczy—AP

Temperatures in single-digits or below zero expected across much of the U.S.

WASHINGTON — Much of America is about to get the Arctic shivers.

Meteorologists are confidently forecasting frigid polar air will plunge south into the northern plains, Midwest and then the East Coast from next Tuesday through Thursday. The Midwest should see temperatures well below zero, with single digit lows in much of the East and freezing temperatures as far south as Atlanta, New Orleans and parts of Florida.

National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Kocin, an expert on winter storms, said it is a classic pattern of massive blasts of Arctic air hitting just about everyone east of the Rockies. He said it will rival last year’s January Arctic outbreak that introduced the phrase “polar vortex” to America.

“This is going to be a big cold outbreak, pretty windy as well,” Kocin said. “It’s going to drive all the way down south.”

The wind and cold could mean wind-chill factors that will make the temperature feel like 30 degrees below zero — 50 degrees below zero in Minneapolis and Chicago, said meteorologist Ryan Maue of the private Weather Bell Analytics. He called it “old-timer’s type of cold.”

Kocin predicts a small Midwestern band of intense snow along with the cold, with some also in parts of the Northeast.

Even though it is several days in advance, meteorologists are pretty sure about this forecast. Kocin said many of the best computer models are saying the same thing.

This is all coming from cold air escaping from the Arctic. The center of the cold air will be around Quebec, Canada, where temperatures — not wind chill — may plunge as low as 40 degrees below zero, Maue said.

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TIME Aviation

Bad Weather Is Hampering the Recovery of AirAsia Bodies

Indonesia Mourns AirAsia Crash As Recovery Operation Continues
Members of an Indonesian search and rescue team carry the body of a victim of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash from a USS navy helicopter at Iskandar Airbase on January 02, 2015 in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images

The longer they're in the water, the more difficult identification becomes

The first identified victim of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 has been laid to rest, but the agony continues for most families as officials say it may take another week for the wreckage to be found, with tempestuous conditions hampering the recovery of remains.

Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, 49, was buried on New Year’s Day, surrounded by friends and family in the village of Sawotratap, a few kilometers outside Indonesia’s second city of Surabaya, from where the doomed Airbus A320-200 departed early Sunday bound for Singapore.

But three members of her family who were with her on the plane still have not been identified.

“Their house has been in a panic since Sunday,” a neighbor named Umaroyah told Reuters. “Everyone in the neighborhood knows someone who was on that plane.”

On Friday, three more of the 22 bodies so far recovered were identified. They were Kevin Alexander Soetjipto, an alum of St. Albertus Catholic high school in Malang; Grayson Herbert Linaksita, a resident of Surabaya; and flight attendant Khairunnisa Haidar, 22. All four identified to date are Indonesian nationals.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted Friday that he would accompany his crew member’s remains to join their families. Palembang is Khairunnisa’s hometown.

F.H. Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), told a press conference Friday in Jakarta that the priorities today are to find the body of the plane and the black box in addition to the search and recovery of the bodies.

However, waves of up to 4 m (13 ft.) on Friday meant that the 47 divers charged with finding more of the 162 passengers and crew were struggling to work.

Some 29 ships and 17 aircraft are busy scouring the busy Karimata Strait for wreckage. Reports on Wednesday that the plane had been found on the seabed seem to have been premature, but the search area Friday was whittled down to around 1,575 square nautical miles.

This is was significantly reduced from Thursday’s search zone of some 13,500 sq km — roughly the size of Connecticut.

According to David Newbery, a Hong Kong flight captain and accredited aircraft-accident investigator, “The spot where the plane vanished from radar simply represents when there was a power interruption to the electronics. An airplane without any engines could glide for over 100 miles from 32,000 ft.”

Basarnas says it will speed up sending recovered bodies from Pangkalan Bun, in Central Kalimantan province, to Surabaya, in East Java, to minimize further deterioration. “As soon as the bodies arrive in Pangkalan Bun, we will evacuate them to Surabaya because we are worried the [local] hospital isn’t sterile,” the Basarnas operational director S.B. Supriyadi told reporters Friday in the Central Kalimantan town.

He later added that eight bodies had now been sent Surabaya, 10 were in the hospital at Pangkalan Bun and four were aboard a search vessel.

Forensic attempts to identify one of those recovered have already proved problematic, because fingerprints are inconclusive after bodies have been exposed to seawater for so long. Other identification methods, such as dental records and DNA, take much longer to process, meaning there’s a race against time for families to gain much needed closure and perform funeral rites.

On Thursday, French agency BEA, which investigates all fatal accidents involving Airbus planes, said its investigators were helping with underwater searches for the aircraft’s two data recorders.

Finding the data recorders, colloquially known as black boxes, is crucial to determining what made the single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner crash. Latest analysis of radar signals indicate the plane may have made an extremely steep climb and descent, possibly because of severe weather.

With reporting by Yenni Kwok

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