Boiling water freezes in mid-air and lakes become like steaming hot-tubs. The record-breaking cold in the USA is truly a force to be reckoned with…
Over the past 48 hours, the Midwest and North East of the USA has been in the grip of a cold front, the likes of which has not been experienced for decades. The windchill and snow brought by The Polar Vortex, or “Polar Pig”, as it is also been known, has forced temperatures to as low as -50 degrees Celsius, causing power outages, school closures and major travel delays in parts of the United States and Canada.
The city of Indianapolis, capital of Indiana, was issued a RED weather warning making it illegal to drive except in an emergency. Toronto faced cold of up to -24C and Chicago broke records yesterday after temperatures plummeted to -27C. Even the Southern States have suffered. Yesterday, the temperature of Dallas, Texas was -4C, while that of Alaska was (ironically) closer to 1C. Snow storms abounded in St Louis, with up to 16″ of snow, and Atlanta reached -7C.
In some areas around the Midwest and Northern Plains, the cold was considered “life-threatening”. In temperatures like these, frostbite can occur within 10 minutes. The cold has now shifted Eastwards, and last night a code blue alert was issued by the Department of Homeless Services, New York, doubling the number of volunteers on the streets providing relief to those without shelter.
Utility companies added extra energy-generating capacity and repair crews, urging customers to limit power use and warning others that they’re likely to see higher heating bills. Xcel Energy faced such increased demand, it was forced to ask to ask 850 businesses in Minnesota and North Dakota to reduce their reliance on the utility and switch to propane tank supplies so the utility can meet higher demand from other customers. Monthly heating bills and the price of Natural Gas are expected to rise as a result of the bitter chill.
Although weather systems like this are common in the North of Canada, they rarely come as far down as the USA let alone its Southern regions. The unusual Southerly blast is thought to be down to a low pressure build up in the area and subsequent jet stream.
The end may be in sight, however, as flights, including some by company JetBlue, have been resumed, and it is expected that the “sub-zero temperatures and snow will virtually be gone by Wednesday”.
Sources Include: BBC News; USA Today; The Weather Network; The Guardian and The Telegraph.
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