Polar vortex death toll rises as Midwest awaits thaw

Polar vortex death toll rises as Midwest awaits thaw

Polar vortex death toll rises as Midwest awaits thaw

Mail deliveries were suspended and people encouraged to stay home in almost a dozen U.S. states where the mercury plunged into the negative double digits, the worst freeze to grip the region in a generation. A polar vortex by definition is a large mass of rotating air that is located in the upper-middle atmospheric layers over either the North or South Pole.

Places like Chicago and MI got the brunt of the arctic winds, with parts of Chicago that are colder than parts of Antarctica.

Dr Masters said "past record-cold waves have not dissipated this quickly" and that the region seems headed for "spring-like temperatures".

America's third city Chicago - where the morning temperature was -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius), which felt like -50 degrees (-46 Celsius) with wind chill - was colder than Alaska's state capital and even colder than parts of Antarctica.

Amy Lawrence, right, helps someone put on a hat as she walks around the downtown bus stop terminal handing out hand warmers to passengers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Tuesday, January 29, 2019, amid a sharp cold spell.

"They are life-threatening temperatures, and they should be treated accordingly", he cautioned.

This week's cold weather will be just a memory within a few days.

Wind chill attempts to quantify the effect in terms of how it feels on our skin, which is why you'll sometimes hear it called the "feels like" temperature.

"If you don't have to be outside, don't", meteorologist Amy Seeley warned Chicago residents. Buffalo Niagara International Airport canceled most of its inbound and outbound flights as 30-mph winds in the snow hampered visibility. Postal services have been suspended throughout six states and in parts of four others.

During winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the polar vortex can become unstable and expand, sending cold Arctic air southward over the US.

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The polar vortex that has gripped the Plains and Midwest will finally lift back into Canada, the National Weather Service says, promising a warmup that will bring a whiplash shift in temperatures.

He said places in MI and IL that were experiencing record or near-record cold this week were expected to be around 10C by Monday, approximately a 40C turnaround. Multiple states of emergency have been declared across the Midwest as schools, roads, airports and businesses shut down to endure the snow.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said government offices would remain closed through Thursday and nonessential employees would stay home.

Authorities and health experts warned of frostbite and hypothermia.

Warming centers were opened for vulnerable residents such as the elderly and shelter capacities increased for the homeless, including the approximately 16,000 people estimated to live on the streets of Chicago.

"The tension goes way up the wire and gets tighter and causes poles to break", Lynch said.

United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart said "everything tends to slow down" during severely cold weather, including manpower, fueling and equipment. So far Wednesday, more than 2,000 flights into, out of and within the United States have been canceled, according to FlightAware.

"I´m here until they let me leave", Robinson told AFP.

Remnants of a weekend snowstorm continued to plague portions of the northeast USA - with strong winds and blowing snow reducing visibility on roads. During the early Wednesday morning hours, much of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and IL are locked down with these "feels like" temperatures in the -40s, -50s, and even -60s (Fahrenheit) as winds howl out of the west at up to 25mph.

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