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article imagePolar vortex turns parts of US ‘colder than Antarctica'

By Abdul Kuddus     Jan 8, 2014 in World
New York - A bone-chilling icy blast enveloped the eastern part of the United States Tuesday with severe cold temperatures recorded from Southern states up to New England.
The source of the unusually cold weather is the “polar vortex,” a low-pressure mass of swirling Arctic-cold air that typically remains in Canada this time of the year.
However, Tuesday the chilling vortex made its presence felt into the Great Lakes region and New England, according to reports.
The icy blast, caused by a kink in the “polar vortex,” affected an estimated 190 million people in the US.
The dense, frigid air broke temperature records in southern and eastern parts of US; records that in some areas had stood for more than a century. Reportedly, the Midwest and the East were colder on Tuesday than much of Antarctica.
All 50 states saw freezing temperatures at some point on Tuesday including Hawaii, where it was -8C (18F) on top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano.
According to Detroit News, “The cold turned deadly for some: Authorities reported at least 21 cold-related deaths across the country since Sunday, including seven in Illinois, and six in Indiana."
Schools and day care centres remained closed across the eastern half of the US; officials opened shelters for the homeless and asked residents to conserve electricity in anticipation of heavy demand.
The bitter cold dragged on in the Midwest as well, with the thermometer reaching minus -24 Celsius overnight in the Chicago area and -25.5 Celsius in suburban St. Louis.
Blowing and drifting snow in Illinois stopped functioning of Chicago-bound trains which stranded more than 500 passengers overnight.
“In Chicago, it was too cold even for the polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo. While polar bears can handle below-zero cold in the wild, Anana was kept inside Monday because she doesn’t have the thick layer of fat that bears typically develop from feeding on seals and whale carcasses,” Detroit News reported.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The uncommonly frigid air spread south and east. Northern and central parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and northern Arkansas all had single-digit temperatures Tuesday morning."
The bitter-cold weather slowed down baggage handling and aircraft refuelling, forcing delays and cancellations of thousands of flights across the United States.
Reportedly, airlines cancelled more than 2,000 flights in the US, bringing the four-day total to more than 11,000.
According to weather forecasts, the worst should be over in the next day or two. Warmer weather at least, near or above freezing point is predicted for much of United States.
More about polar vortex, Weather, United States, Polar freeze
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