Published: Mon, February 04, 2019
Science | By

Polar Vortex Brings Record-Breaking Deep Freeze to Midwest

Polar Vortex Brings Record-Breaking Deep Freeze to Midwest

While temperatures in much of Midwest (including Minneapolis and Chicago) and Northeast (including Buffalo and Vermont) were hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit, the weather is expected to warm up during the weekend.

"The bitter cold air is going to be pushed up into Canada", said a senior meteorologist for Accuweather.

The term "Polar Vortex" has been widely used to describe the dangerously cold temperatures that have been plunging into the USA from Canada.

In Chicago, where the mercury dipped as low as minus minus 30˚C this week, temperatures of minus 5.5˚C by Friday afternoon felt balmy for some in the nation's third-largest city.

In many places, like Chicago, the temperatures climbed just above zero on Friday after the city reeled under intense cold with temperatures dipping to extreme lows like minus 31˚C, The New York Times reported.

"It has got to be an nearly 50 degree difference, it feels like spring", said a commuter heading home from Chicago's downtown financial district, wearing just a sweatshirt.

The Washington DC area, which had 20°F (-7°C) temperatures, was under a winter weather advisory until the afternoon as around one inch (2.5cm) of snowfall accumulated during the morning.

A brutal cold spell that paralysed the United States Midwest, freezing water mains, causing power outages and cancelling flights, has eased, with forecasts predicting a rapid thaw. "Now the high pressure is over Pennsylvania and New York", Mr Jackson said.


"I just want to stay inside", Liao, a NY native, said.

Temperatures in the Upper Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana and OH, reached well above -18C yesterday, with highs making it into minus single figures.

Even so, parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa were still experiencing temperatures in the negative single digits, Jackson said. By Saturday, highs will be in the 30s and even low 40s. The central Plains will be in around 14C to 16C, almost seven or eight degrees above normal, the weather service said.

The Arctic air mass that veered off its normal polar route broke more than 340 records in communities across a cluster of states, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Centre. The wind chill at the time officers found Belz was minus 51F (minus 46 C), according to the National Weather Service.

The death toll rose from a previous 12 after at least nine more people in Chicago were reported to have died from cold-related injuries, according to Stathis Poulakidas, a doctor at the city's John H.

The U.S. Postal Service suspended deliveries in parts of eight states, a rare move for the service.

And while thousands of flights were canceled and delayed, mostly out of Chicago, the flight-tracking site FlightAware reported cancellations were down to just over 750 and delays just over 130.

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