All of the Truly Bizarre Ways the Cold is Affecting the U.S.

Train tracks in Chicago are being intentionally set on fire.

boiling water challenge
A man walks along an ice-covered break-wall along Chicago's Lake Michigan where temperatures were hovering around -20 degrees with wind chills nearing -50 degrees on Thursday. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Dangerous and sometimes even record-breaking cold is making its way across the United States this week, impacting some 200 million Americans with below-freezing temperatures.

About 75% of the country will see below freezing temperatures on Thursday, according to CNN. Aside from misery-inducing commutes and extra time spent piling on the layers, there have been some bizarre effects and jaw-dropping firsts that this extreme weather has brought on.

As reported earlier this week, some parts of the country are colder than the Antarctic, Siberia and Mount Everest — the kind of deadly cold that is responsible for at least nine deaths so far in the U.S.

An unexpected effect of the cold has been an “emergency need” for blood reported by the American Red Cross after drives across the northern states and parts of the Midwest have been cancelled.

The state government has all but shut down, according to CNN, after the Treasury Department issued a statement on Twitter that “State of Michigan offices are closed today (Jan. 30) across the state due to the extremely cold weather conditions,” which includes Treasury Field Offices and taxpayer service phone hotlines.

Don’t expect to drop off or pick up anything from UPS in Michigan on Thursday, either, according to the company’s Twitter.

The cold is even forcing USPS workers — who vow to work through the most intense weather conditions — to stay home on Thursday; meaning there will be no mail delivery in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

In Chicago, described as the “epicenter of the extreme cold” by CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen, like, wind-chill-of-50-below-zero, the train tracks are being intentionally set on fire to reduce the chances of ice accumulation.

Beer drinkers in parts of Minnesota might go without their preferred brews as kegs are reportedly freezing before reaching their destinations.

“Most of the folks up north are not delivering,” Mike Madigan, president of Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association, told CNN. “Most distributors are not delivering in the Twin Cities, down south and out west.”

Wind chills approaching -70 in Ponsford, Minnesota forced the state to issue a warning that frostbite could set in win under five minutes of exposure.

And in Wisconsin, boiling water is turning into ice the moment it touches the air.

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