29 killed as Polar Vortex freezes US Midwest

Chicago set for coldest day ever recorded as polar vortex hits city

Chicago set for coldest day ever recorded as polar vortex hits city

The death toll rose from a previous 12 after at least nine more people in Chicago were reported to have died from cold-related injuries from 2019 polar vertex, according to Dr Stathis Poulakidas at the city's John H Stroger Jr Hospital.

Homeless and displaced people were particularly at risk, with Chicago and other cities setting up warming shelters.

According to officials, the 29 victims included a 72-year-old woman who was found unresponsive in her garage on Friday in Germantown Hills, Illinois, a University of Iowa student, a woman who froze to death inside a Milwaukee apartment after the thermostat malfunctioned and a man who died while using a snowblower in Buffalo. But many toughed it out in camps or vacant buildings. A 69-year-old FedEx worker was found dead outside of an IL delivery hub, according to TV station WQAD.

Bryan Jackson, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the core of the vortex was pulling north into eastern Canada, though residual icy air was still pushing over to the US Northeast.

Meteorologists linked the spell of brutal cold to the so-called polar vortex, a cap of icy air that usually swirls over the North Pole. It's an incredibly powerful tool that has aided the weather forecasting community in more accurately predicting changes over both the short and long term. "Past record-cold waves have not dissipated this quickly ..." Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV canceled a shift on Thursday at two of its plants.

For the second day in a row, the intense cold and windy conditions forced USA airlines to cancel more than 2,000 flights.

Thousands of flights were cancelled and delayed earlier in the week, mostly out of Chicago, but yesterday the flight-tracking site FlightAware reported cancellations in the United States down to more than 400.

On Friday, police in East Moline, Illinois, about 160 miles (260 km) west of Chicago, said the weather may have contributed to the death of a FedEx freight driver whose body was found between two trucks on Thursday outside a company distribution hub.

More than 30 record lows were shattered across the Midwest.

Temperatures yesterday morning ranged from below zero Fahrenheit to the teens in parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The region is expected to gradually warm back up over the next few days and return to temperatures more akin to what we'd expect for late January or early February.

A drop to the -20s fahrenheit (-30s celsius) is expected for Friday.

"It's going to be at least a 60-degree swing for Chicago", David Hamrick, a National Weather Service forecaster, told Reuters news agency.

But as the temperatures abruptly turn warmer, U.S. emergency officials warn of flooding and utility risks.

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