Published: Fri, February 01, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Freezing weather in United States starting to ease

Freezing weather in United States starting to ease

Record-breaking blasts of Arctic air caused at least a dozen deaths in the U.S. Midwest as the cold spread eastward on January 31 to the Northeast, leaving behind a trail of school closures, major travel disruptions, and the suspension of U.S. Postal Service deliveries in some areas.

BBC reporter Harry Low is in Chicago where temperatures have dropped to -30 degrees.

The polar vortex is an icy cap of air that usually swirls over the North Pole. Changing air currents caused it to slip down through Canada and into the U.S. Midwest this week.

Heavy snow hitting Chicago off the Great Lakes was set to begin winding down on Thursday night, the weather service said. It is speculated that some areas of the Midwest would warm up dramatically by the weekend.

Rachel Liao, 29, a student at the New School in NY, said she wished classes had been canceled due to the cold.

"People don't want to be out there right now", said Brennan Ellis, 53, who is staying at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. "I'm not used to this".

Temperatures in the Upper Midwest will rebound to well above zero F (minus 18 C) on Friday, with highs making it into the teens and low 20s F. By Saturday, highs will be in the 30s and even low 40s F, while the central Plains will be in the low 60s F, almost 20 to 25 degrees above normal, the weather service said.


The Midwest region comprises Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Many normal activities shut down and residents huddled inside as the National Weather Service forecast plunging temperatures from one of the coldest air masses in years.

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. The central Plains will be in the low 60s, almost 20 to 25 degrees above normal, the weather service said.

A torrent of polar air brought record-low temperatures to much of the American Midwest on Wednesday.

Officials across multiple states linked at least 20 deaths to the deep freeze. 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. The U.S. Postal Service suspended deliveries in parts of eight states, a rare move for the service.

At Chicago's O'Hare airport, a major regional hub for airlines, ground crews struggled with freezing equipment and were told to avoid spending more than 15 minutes at a time exposed to the cold, causing delays for flights that managed to take off.

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