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Polar vortex: death toll rises but weather begins to warm

Polar vortex: death toll rises but weather begins to warm

Dangerously cold weather continued to shatter records across the midwest on Thursday, as the polar vortex kept schools, businesses and government offices closed, and hospitals busy. Reports of deaths linked to the weather system steadily rose on Thursday and authorities continued to investigate.At least 21 have died across the country, according to Reuters. Hospitals have…


Dangerously cold weather continued to shatter records across the midwest on Thursday, as the polar vortex kept schools, businesses and government offices closed, and hospitals busy.

Reports of deaths linked to the weather system steadily rose on Thursday andauthorities continued to investigate.At least 21 have died across the country,according to Reuters.Hospitals have reported hundreds of cold-related cases.

Chicagoshatteredall-time low temperatures Thursday morning, earning it the nickname “Chiberia”. There, temperatures dropped to -21F (-29C), nearly 10 degrees colder than the 1985 record.

Nearby Rockford, Illinois, set acold weather recordat -30F (-34C).Madison, Wisconsinbroke its 1985 record, with lows of -26F (-32C) Thursday morning. In all cases, record-keeping started more than 100 years ago.

As temperatures rose in the midwest on Thursday, the storm moved farther east, spreading arctic conditions over an area from Buffalo to Brooklyn. In western New York, the storm dumped up to 20 inches of snow (51 centimeters).

Jonathan Petramala(@jpetramala)

Nature. You win again 👏#sunrise#chiberia#lakemichigan#polarvortex#accuphoto#chicagoweather#chicago@accuweather@breakingweatherpic.twitter.com/aUiXHcbHsz

January 31, 2019

The deaths attributed to the weather system include an elderlyIllinoisman who was found after he fell trying to get into his home, a University of Iowa student found behind an academic hall,a man struck by a snowplow in the Chicago area and nine people in Chicago. Additionally, a young couple’s SUV struck a truck on a snowy road in northern Indiana, and a Milwaukee man froze to death in a garage, authorities said.

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Polar vortex: -46C temperatures as Chicago River turns to ice – video report

The extreme cold has also sent dozens of people to hospitals inMinnesota. Hennepin healthcare in Minneapolis says it has treated 22 patients for frostbite since Friday, including 13 admitted to the hospital. At least 144 people in Illinois visited hospital emergency rooms for cold-related injuries over two days.

A pedestrian braves the cold on Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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A pedestrian braves the cold on Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/AFP/Getty Images

Some areas of the midwest were expected to warm up dramatically by the weekend. Temperatures in Illinois could rise by 80 degrees within days.

NWS Aberdeen(@NWSAberdeen)

What can we say, strange things happen when it gets this cold 😆
Photo credit: Sarah Schneewind in Southern MN today.pic.twitter.com/OO0AsIJLsm

January 30, 2019

More people are expected to return to work inChicago, which resembled a ghost town Wednesday after most offices told employees to stay home.

Aside from the safety risks and the physical discomfort, the system’s icy grip also took a heavy toll on infrastructure, halting transportation, knocking out electricity and interrupting water service.

CBS News(@CBSNews)

WATCH: It’s so cold in Chicago today that they have to set the railroad tracks on fire to keep trains moving.#PolarVortexhttps://t.co/6FFgLUplgspic.twitter.com/SXVl4n0ICm

January 30, 2019

Ten diesel train lines in the Metra commuter network kept running, unlike the electric lines, but crews had to heat vital switches with gas flames and watched for cracked rails.

InDetroit, more than two dozen water mains froze. Most mains are five to six feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) underground and beneath the frost line, but that matters little when temperatures drop so dramatically, Peckinpaugh said.

Authorities have warned that the warmer temperatures may bring their own set of problems. In Michigan, melting snow and rain and a 17-mile ice jam on the Muskegon river could lead to flooding. Potholes will appear on roads and bridges weakened by the freeze-thaw cycle. The same cycle can crack water mains and homeowners’ pipes. Scores of vehicles will be left with flat tires and bent rims.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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