Polar Vortex: You Thought The UK Was Cold? It's -45C In Parts Of The US

Hell has literally frozen over as a police force asks people to “keep criminalling to a minimum”.
A man walks along an ice-covered break-wall along Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois
A man walks along an ice-covered break-wall along Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois
Scott Olson via Getty Images

The cold snap in the UK has led to severe weather warnings, with the fears over “risk to life” as the country is braced for more snow and ice. But in parts of the US, it’s almost uninhabitable.

Across the States, and particularly in a number of northern states, temperatures have reportedly plummeted to as low as minus 45C (minus 49F) with a wind chill.

Chicago is braced to experience its lowest ever temperature on Thursday and drop below the minus 32C (minus 25.6F) recorded in 1985, according to the National Weather Service.

The Illinois city was colder than the Canadian village of Alert, one of the world’s most northerly inhabited places. The nation’s third-largest city resembled a ghost town after most offices told employees to stay home.

Just to underline the point, Hell has literally frozen over. Residents of Hell in Michigan have experienced temperatures as low as minus 26C (minus 14.8F)

Disruptions caused by the persistent subzero temperatures have included power outages and canceled flights and trains and burst water mains. Meanwhile, a police force in Missouri asked people to “keep criminalling to a minimum” while the cold weather continues.

A bicyclist braves the cold in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota
A bicyclist braves the cold in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota
Agence-France Presse

Driving the extreme weather is the Polar Vortex, or more specifically a split in the Polar Vortex, a mass of cold air that normally stays bottled up in the Arctic. The split allowed the air to spill much farther south than usual.

Officials in dozens of cities are focused on protecting vulnerable people from the cold, including the homeless, the elderly and those living in substandard housing.

At least eight deaths were linked to the system, including an elderly Illinois man who was found several hours after he fell trying to get into his home, and a University of Iowa student found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn.

Elsewhere, a man was struck by a snowplow in the Chicago area, a young couple’s SUV struck another on a snowy road in northern Indiana, and a Milwaukee man froze to death in a garage, authorities said.

People have posted footage of the freezing weather on social media.

One man showed a t-shirt frozen solid and “stiff as a board” after hanging it outside on the railings of a balcony.

Amtrak, the US’s train operator, canceled scores of trains to and from Chicago, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs.

Several families who intended to leave for Pennsylvania stood in ticket lines at Chicago’s Union Station only to be told all trains were canceled until Friday.

“Had I known we’d be stranded here, we would have stayed in Mexico longer — where it was warmer,” said Anna Ebersol, who was traveling with her two sons.


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