Over 20 dead in USA polar vortex, frostbite amputations feared

Mindy Sparks
February 1, 2019

Hudson Valley Weather is now predicting a low Wednesday night of -8 degrees with wind chills of -10 to -35 degrees Thursday's high will be near 11 degrees and a low of around -3 degrees. In Chicago, temperatures have touched a low of minus 30 degrees Celsius, and the surface of the Chicago River has frozen in parts.

Mail deliveries were suspended and people were encouraged to stay home in almost a dozen USA states where the mercury plunged into the negative double digits, the worst freeze to grip the region in a generation.

Meteorologists linked the brutally cold weather to the so-called polar vortex, a cap of icy air that usually circles the North Pole. "They are life-threatening temperatures, and they should be treated accordingly", he cautioned.

On Friday morning, temperatures ranged from below zero Fahrenheit to the teens in parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

In Illinois, a temperature of -38F (-39C) was recorded and could be the lowest ever temperature the state has ever seen, if confirmed by officials. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, set a daily record low of minus 30 degrees (minus 34 Celsius). "In coming days, expected to get even colder", he wrote on Twitter in part on January 28.

The frigid conditions cancelled more flights, and the number of deaths blamed on the cold climbed to 13.

Amtrak train services that had been halted since Wednesday in Chicago's hub resumed on Friday, as did US postal service that was halted or limited in six Midwest states.

More than 2,300 flights were cancelled across the USA on Thursday, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware. Trains and buses in Chicago operated with few passengers.

Governors in Illinois, Wisconsin and MI declared emergencies as the worst of the cold threatened on Wednesday. In Wisconsin and Iowa, wind chills reached minus 58. Schools, businesses and government offices are reportedly close. Nonessential employees would stay home. Frostbite and hypothermia can occur if precautions are not taken.

Homeless and displaced people were particularly at risk, with Chicago and other cities setting up warming shelters.

A woman boards a subway train as heavy snow falls on January 30, 2019 in NY.

"The concern would be whether they are going to be able to survive in these bitter cold temperatures", Patten told AFP.

A young man waits on a subway platform in freezing temperatures on January 30, 2019 in NY.

Remnants of a weekend snowstorm continued to plague portions of the northeast USA - with strong winds and blowing snow reducing visibility on roads.

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

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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