News / USA

Polar Vortex Triggers Record Cold in Much of US

  • A pedestrian covers up against single digit temperatures in New York, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Traffic backs up along I-75 due to icy conditions on pavement in Detroit, Michigan, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Ice in the Mississippi River flows past the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Isabella and Zadok Graff check on their family's beef cattle during freezing temperatures in Middletown, Illinois, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • A man is silhouetted against the arctic sea smoke rising off Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Matt Frame brushes off a Buick at Ray Laethem Buick-GMC in Detroit, Michigan, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Commuters gather under warming lamps on one of Chicago's famous "El" lines as they experience wind chills expected to reach far below zero, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Two pedestrians go down a street in Chicago's South Loop with temperatures well below zero, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Time and temperature signs in Lawrence, Kansas, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Daryl Daugherty clears the sidewalk in front of his home in Carmel, Indiana, Jan. 6, 2014.
VOA News
Relief is on the way to the United States, which has seen days of life-threatening cold due to record low temperatures.
Temperatures are expected to rise to near normal in the Midwest by Thursday, and spring-like weather is expected in the east by the end of the week.
Temperatures in all or parts of each of the 50 states were below freezing at some point Tuesday, even in Hawaii, where it was minus six degrees Celsius on top of the state's highest mountain.
The cold that froze over midwestern cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis spread to the eastern part of the country Tuesday. It was minus 10 degrees Celsius in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, with the wind chill making it feel much colder.
Temperatures also reached record lows in the normally temperate south.

Watch related video by VOA's Arash Arabasadi

Polar Vortex Hits Northeast USi
January 07, 2014 8:59 PM
A cold, low-pressure system is freezing much of the United States. It’s called a Polar Vortex, and as the name suggests, it usually hangs out around the North and South Poles. But this rotating mass of cold dense air is being pushed south from its usual place in northern Canada, sending temperatures plummeting. The Midwest bears most of the brunt, but as Arash Arabasadi reports, almost no one is being spared.

The bitter cold shut down schools, disrupted train service, and led to the cancellation of thousands of flights. At least five deaths have been reported nationwide.
The frigid weather was caused by what meteorologists call a polar vortex -- a rotating mass of cold dense air that usually stays in place in northern Canada, but was pushed south by the jet stream.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Al Gore from: D.C.
January 07, 2014 9:42 AM
It is definitely the global warming that is causing this cold.
In Response

by: Markt from: Virginia
January 09, 2014 11:43 AM
while I live in VA now, I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY...the weather there is a contrast of extremes, being right off Lake Erie. Summers are brutally hot and humid and last for 4-5 months, winters are bone chilling cold with lots of snow (lake effect) and wind chills in the low teens as a matter of cause, and that also lasts 4-5 months...Spring and Fall are squeezed in there somewhere. I left that area when I joined the military in 1981 (and never looked back, lol). This has been going on for far longer than my time living there, and longer than all this nonsense talk of Global Warming. While I do think climate change, pollution and all that contribute, this has been going on for centuries. Not a 'new' phenomenon, by any stretch of the imagination.
In Response

by: Barrie from: Calgary, AB Canada
January 08, 2014 7:47 PM
For certain. Anyone with any knowledge of weather systems should realise this. The Fox "News" people are falling all over themselves to try to reopen the so-called debate over Global warming. Do they really think that New York, Washington or Chicago constitute the entire globe's climate and weather?
If anyone thinks it has never been this cold wherever they live should look up newspaper archives or weather records from the 1700s (you know, around when the U.S. was a new nation) or early 1800s. They didn't have a weather service like we have today, but there are plenty of pictures and written accounts of winter conditions then. Horses were well-bundled to withstand the chill while hitched to carriages, and in the latter, there were no automatic climate control systems to keep the occupants cozy.
Meanwhile, while North America is colder than usual, the Indian sub-continent is suffering through an unusually hot period, even for their summer. Temperatures in the mid-50s (Celsius) have been common for several days, causing zoos to treat their charges with frozen fish and steaks and other treats (suitable for the species) to help them cope with the heat. I suppose that area is not part of the globe that is being considered by the sensationalist media.

by: Markt from: Virginia
January 07, 2014 8:43 AM
Here in Virginia it is 11 degrees outside, wind chill is -8 and the temperature inside my house is a balmy 59 degrees thanks to a transformer on the power pole outside our house going sour last night. Took the folks at REC an hour to fix it in the frigid night air (kudos to them, I salute you) and restore power to my house and the last two houses on our lane. It is not only cold outside, but cold inside as well, lol...hoping that it warms up into the 60s in the house my tonight....
In Response

by: Barrie from: Calgary, AB
January 08, 2014 7:56 PM
Our next-door neighbour's son and family live in the National Capital Area, so they (the parents, anyway) have seen this before, but the high humidity along the coast creates cold like we don't experience inland where the winter humidity is much lower. We hope they and their neighbours - heck, all affected by the weather - are doing well and keeping as warm as possible.
And don't forget the utility workers, plus all emergency personnel, including EMT s and tow truck operators, who have to work in the nasty conditions. They are real live heroes, many of whom don't get enough credit for their work.

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