Science

29 killed as Polar Vortex freezes US Midwest

29 killed as Polar Vortex freezes US Midwest”

Though the sun was out in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon and temperatures hovered around 15 deg C, the National Weather Service (NWS) said rain would begin to fall later in the evening and continue without let-up through Saturday night.

Meteorologists linked the brutally cold weather to the so-called polar vortex, a cap of icy air that usually circles the North Pole.

The Cook County's medical examiner's office said there were four confirmed cold-related deaths this week in the Chicago area.

As a frigid cold snap descends on the Midwest, threatening residents with temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero-in some places, the low will be the coldest seen in decades-experts are warning that the conditions could turn deadly.

U.S. media reported as many as 21 weather-related deaths since a snow storm hit the Midwest early last week, followed by plunging temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday. The concern, though, turned to the threat of flooding and further stress on already strained infrastructure as the region thawed out.

"It's important to remember that the rapid change in weather and snow melt could lead to unsafe flooding", James Joseph, the regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said in a statement. Thousands of flights were scrapped this week, especially at Chicago's two major airports, which experienced more than 1,500 cancellations a day. Children - some of whom have been at home for nearly a week - returned to class in many school districts, while others were off for another day because frozen school buses would not start.

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

Hundreds of warming centres were opened for vulnerable residents such as seniors, and shelter capacities increased for the homeless. Despite those efforts, there were still reports of fatalities.

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.

On the University of Iowa campus, 18-year-old student Gerald Belz was found unresponsive behind a building at around 3 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Rachel Liao, 29, a student at the New School in NY, said she wished classes had been cancelled due to the cold.

Officials across multiple states have reported weather-related deaths in Milwaukee, Detroit, Rochester, Minnesota, and IL, including an 82-year-old man who died from exposure after falling outside his home.



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