Polar vortex: United States braces for life-threatening temperatures

United States polar vortex 2019: US faces historic low temperatures | Daily Star

United States polar vortex 2019: US faces historic low temperatures | Daily Star

At least a dozen deaths related to extreme cold weather have been reported since Saturday in Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to officials and media reports.

Deadly arctic deep freeze and wind chills have engulfed the US Midwest and Northeast Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Authorities and health experts warned that frostbite and hypothermia could set in in minutes in the extreme cold.

The wind chill temperature is more than a catchy forecast term.

People in the United States and Canada should avoid talking and taking deep breaths when outside during the treacherous winter conditions, the National Weather Service has warned.

Including the wind chill factor, parts of the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota had temperatures of -70 Fahrenheit (-56.7 Celsius), according to forecasters.

"Through late week, expect frigid temperatures, bitterly cold and life-threatening wind chills, likely leading to widespread record lows and low maximum temperatures from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley", the NWS stated on its website.

'That's 40 degrees below normal, ' Hurley said.

As much as 24in (60cm) of snow is forecast in the state of Wisconsin, and 6in in IL.

Even Alabama and MS could see snow, the service added.

Snow is expected to fall as far south as Alabama and Georgia.

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States of emergency have been declared from Wisconsin and MI, down to Alabama and Mississippi. Beneath this lay a dense layer of arctic air that was pushed south over the US.

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.

"We have opened two additional 24-hour warming centers, our Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie, and our King Community Center at 4341 South Cottage will each be open 24 hours a day", Chicago Commissioner of Family and Support Services Liza Morrison-Butler announced Monday. MI said all state offices would remain closed through Thursday.

Homeless shelters were also preparing for the onslaught of cold.

"The priority must continue to be on keeping people safe", she said.

As ominous as the term polar vortex sounds, meteorologists say the phenomenon is not new, nor despite its sound does it refer to a cyclone of cold or a freakishly risky storm.

Dr Christie said these temperatures can also start to affect your day-to-day life: you start planning to do as little outside as you can.

"This is historic cold", Kalka said as he drove between homeless shelters, arranging transportation for those stuck on the streets and collecting blankets and hand warmers to dole out downtown for some of Madison's most vulnerable residents. That's right, weather conditions could be more frigid than Antarctica.

"The bitter cold temperatures pose a real risk to people across the state", Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said on Twitter after touring state emergency operations.

The polar vortex is an atmospheric circulation pattern that sits high above the poles, in a layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere.

This structure can weaken as a result of abnormal warming in the poles, causing it to split off into smaller "sister vortices" that may travel outside of their typical range.

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