USA thaws from Arctic deep freeze as death toll climbs

Mindy Sparks
February 4, 2019

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

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.

In Chicago, which experienced temperatures as low as -30C earlier this week, temperatures of -7C felt positively balmy as a measure of normalcy returned to the nation's third-largest city.

"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.

Meteorologists linked the spell of brutal cold to the so-called polar vortex, a cap of icy air that usually swirls over the North Pole.

- Hundreds of new records - 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 Center.

In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers has declared an emergency and requested help from the National Guard, according to the New York Times; In northern In, the University of Notre Dame said it would close its campus this evening through Thursday afternoon. "I'm not used to this".

With wind chill factored in, temperatures dropped to as low as -64 degrees Fahrenheit (-53C) in Minnesota, -59F (-51C) in Wisconsin, -58F (-58C) in Iowa and -55F (-48C) in IL.

Still, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this January has yielded twice as many record highs as record lows, USA Today reports. The central Plains will be in the low 60s, almost 20 to 25 degrees above normal, the weather service said.

The mass of Arctic air had clung to a swath of the United States from Iowa and the Dakotas across the Great Lakes region and into ME for days.

A homeless man sitting outside a coffee shop accepts cash from a customer on a bitter cold morning, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Portland, Maine, The polar vortex that's bringing misery to the upper Midwest is making an appearance in northern New England, where some places will struggle to reach the single digits.

It's led to eight deaths so far and that number is expected to rise.

The death toll rose 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 Stroger Jr Hospital.

Amtrak restored rail service to and from Chicago on Friday, and the U.S. Postal Services resumed mail delivery in six Midwest states.

More than 2,300 flights were cancelled across the US on Thursday, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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