Published: Fri, February 01, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Polar vertex freezes Midwest, parts of U.S. with cold air

Polar vertex freezes Midwest, parts of U.S. with cold air

Snowplows were idled overnight in southwestern Minnesota, where temperatures dropped to -29°F (-34°C).

So what exactly is a polar vortex? But the sudden swing from long johns to light jackets and short sleeves could create problems of its own.

Ricky Castro, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Romeoville, Illinois, said: "This could possibly be history-making".

America's third city was in the direct path of the harsh weather and experienced its second-coldest day ever. "Here we are going right into spring-like temperatures".

Then there was also a squall in New York today, which was 20 minutes of very intense snow in New York City.

For the nation's midsection, relief was as close as the weekend. Her hair can be seen frozen into a static position above her head. Milwaukee's low was minus 25 degrees (minus 31 Celsius).

The dramatic warm-up will offer a respite from the bone-chilling cold that canceled school, closed businesses and halted trains.

The same freeze-thaw cycle beats up concreate and asphalt roads and bridges, resulting in teeth-jarring potholes. An aerial view shows the water running both around and under frozen over parts of the falls, crashing onto the large chunks at the bottom. Scores of vehicles will be left with flat tires and bent rims.

Towing companies saw a huge demand for service after hundreds of vehicles got stranded. The wind chill temperature, which is a measure of what the air fees like when wind is taken into account, will fall as low as minus-65 in the Upper Midwest.

"We'll have all hands on deck". "The more layers, the more you're insulated", he said.

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The thawing of pipes can sometimes inflict greater damage than the initial freeze.

"Water pipes are brittle".

Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Officials in Buffalo, New York, watched for flooding on the Upper Niagara River because of ice.

Some residents just to the north and northwest of the Twin Cities in Minnesota were asked by Xcel Energy to dial down their thermostats to 60 (16C) because of the strains on its natural gas supply system. The frightful cold, expected to bottom out with record lows Thursday morning, was blamed for several deaths across the region, and fears for the most vulnerable populations soared as night fell. Cotton, Minnesota, had the lowest national temperature recorded early on Thursday at minus 56 F (minus 48 C) before the weather warmed up, the weather service reported. That would break the IL record of minus 36 (minus 38 Celsius), set in Congerville on January 5, 1999.

In Chicago, temperatures were still dropping after plunging early Wednesday to minus 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28 degrees Celsius), breaking the day's previous record low set in 1966. Wind chills were lower still.

General Motors suspended operations at 11 MI plants and its Warren Tech Center after a utility company made an emergency appeal to customers to conserve natural gas. "But we will never force someone", police officer Michael Carroll said.

Weather Underground's meteorology director Jeff Masters said parts of the Northern US could experience an "unprecedented" and "dramatic warm-up".

Meanwhile, the extreme cold was settling in over the Northeast.

The extreme cold has also sent dozens of people to hospitals in Minnesota. "We look at it as a public health risk".

"People may be in their homes, but they can do things such as online shopping", Zandi said. The dry, frigid air froze exposed water instantly, led to spontaneous nosebleeds and made even brief forays outdoors extremely hazardous.

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