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Record-Breaking Temperatures Create Dangerous Travel Conditions in Chicago

The recent "Polar Vortex" sweeping the Midwest has left authorities concerned about increased traffic accidents and other dangerous travel conditions.

At least three Chicago-bound trains were stalled in the subzero temperatures plaguing the Midwest. According to CBS Chicago, the 36-hour stint of extreme cold left nearly 500 Amtrak passengers stranded overnight in trains in Illinois as they headed toward the Chicago area.

Two trains (from downstate Quincy and California) halted about 75 miles outside of Aurora yesterday morning, forcing passengers to wait 14 hours until they boarded buses in Princeton to complete the trip to Chicago.

Another train, carrying over 200 passengers, stopped in Galesburg about 150 miles outside of Chicago. These passengers were forced to take other forms of transportation for the remainder of their trip as well.

The intense cold created problems for transportation in Chicago city limits as well. According to news sources, Metra and CTA tracks were frozen, leading to delays. Dozens of Metra trains were delayed for several hours on Monday, and 26 trains were canceled for Tuesday.

Authorities are concerned about vehicle transportation too – especially on bridges and overpasses. While some roads may appear to be free of ice, some may be covered in hidden patches of "black ice;" slick spots on the road that are impossible to see from a car. These dangerous conditions can lead to spin-outs if drivers are not careful to avoid the ice.

Chicago law enforcement reports at least 60 car accidents in the Chicago area today; hundreds more were related on Monday. State police helped at least 2,500 motorists who were left helpless along Chicago roads after weather-related accidents.

The Chicago O'Hare International Airport suffered delays as well, leaving passengers with nowhere to go while they waited for safe conditions to fly. One family told CBS Chicago that they were stuck at the airport for nearly 24 hours, after spending two days waiting for a flight in New York.

Temperatures are expected to rise above zero this afternoon or evening.