The deep freeze spread from the US Midwest to the East and South, setting record low temperatures from Boston to Birmingham, and leaving 21 people dead.
A deadly chill had much of the United States and Canada in its wintry grip, as a record-breaking cold snap brought temperatures lower than on the surface of Mars.
It was so cold in Chicago that the polar bear at the Lincoln Park zoo — who admittedly had not built up the winter fat stores of her wild cousins — was brought inside to warm up.
The deep freeze spread from the US Midwest to the East and South, setting record low temperatures from Boston to Birmingham, and leaving 21 people dead, authorities said. The Midwest and the East experienced temperatures colder than much of Antarctica.
In a phenomenon that forecasters said is actually not all that unusual, all 50 states saw freezing temperatures at some point. That included Hawaii, where it was 18 degrees (-8 Celsius) atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano.
All of Canada and all the US states bar tropical Hawaii recorded temperatures below freezing on Tuesday, even usually sunny and temperate Florida and California. But the most dangerous cold — cold that can cause frostbite in a minute and death in a matter of hours — hit the Midwest, dragged down as the ‘polar vortex’ brought frigid air from the Arctic.
Schools, businesses and government offices were closed. Water mains and household pipes froze. Airplanes were grounded, trains were halted and roads and sidewalks became ice rinks.