Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Polar Vortex Blasts US Midwest, Northeast with Record-Breaking Cold

A car is driven on a snow-covered road as it passes through Winnats Pass near Castleton England A car is driven on a snow-covered road as it passes through Winnats Pass near Castleton England
Frank Williams | 31 January, 2019, 19:26

Hundreds of millions of Americans spent Wednesday seeking relief from some of the coldest weather ever recorded in the continental United States.

United States media has attributed at least five deaths since the weekend to the freezing conditions and a major snowstorm that preceded the blast of Arctic air now gripping the region.

The phenomenon stemming from a blast of Arctic air caused surreal scenes throughout the region, such as steam rising off the waters of Lake Michigan - the result of extremely cold air passing over warmer water below. "Through late week, expect frigid temperatures, bitterly cold and life-threatening wind chills, likely leading to widespread record lows and low maximum temperatures from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley".

Some buses even have nurses on board to treat those coming in from the cold.

Unlike most Chicago residents, Gilbert was required to report to his job at a Starbucks located on a downtown street largely devoid of its usual bustle of people and traffic.

More than 1,500 flights into Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports were canceled and Amtrak train services did not run.

Postal services have been suspended in some areas of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin as well as parts of Kansas, Montana and Nebraska because it's simply too cold for postal workers to be out and about.

A bone-chilling polar vertex has plunged the Midwest, stretching from the Dakotas through ME, into a wave of dangerously cold Arctic air.

"A record arctic air mass will remain over the central and eastern U.S. over the next several days", the NWS said.

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"Where the polar vortex goes, so goes the cold air", Mr Cohen said.

The big chill in the Midwest came on the heels of a major storm that dumped up to 30cm of snow on the region over the weekend - and reportedly claimed at least two lives so far.

He tweeted: "In the lovely Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded". Nonessential employees would stay home.

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast temperatures between -10 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 to -40 Celsius) by Wednesday, with wind chill making it seem as cold as -65 degrees Fahrenheit in one area of Minnesota.

Shelters, churches and city departments in Detroit worked together to help get vulnerable people out of the cold, offering the message to those who refused help that "you're going to freeze or lose a limb", said Terra DeFoe, a senior adviser to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Chicago´s regional electric train service was canceled due to wire problems caused by the freezing temperatures, as gas burners heated rail switches to keep trains moving on a reduced schedule.

Flight cancellations piled up throughout the country - more than 2,700 by the evening, stranding travellers such as Brandon Robinson who spent extra days at a Chicago hotel.

An additional 200 flights were cancelled at Toronto's airport.

Heavy snow was forecast in the northern stretches of ME and snow squalls predicted for other parts of the east coast.

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