In major cities such as Chicago and throughout Canada and the northern United States, the polar vortex, a whirlpool of cold air consistently at extremely low temperatures normally confined to the North Pole, reportedly broke free of the Arctic Circle and came down for a visit. The polar vortex brought extremely cold temperatures as far down south as West Virginia, and the effect it is having is intense to say the least.
Now, photos are being taken of Niagara Falls becoming partially frozen over. This happens periodically, but on this particular occasion, the United States is being hit with the most intense cold weather the nation has seen in a very long time.
Niagara Falls is of course located between the border of the United States and Canada, between the states of New York and Ontario. In Ontario, Canada, temperatures have fallen to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius), although in other places the temperature drop has been exponentially more extreme.
According to the Independent:
“Steam can be seen rising from the Falls, as the temperature of the water is warmer than the freezing air, creating the ethereal effect. Large chunks of ice have formed with the water flowing around them, while surrounding trees and rocks are submerged in snow.”
Of course, the waterfalls never really stop moving or go so far as to freeze in motion, the flow of water is simply too powerful to allow for that. However, it sure is a sight to behold.
This is where the situation gets insane: temperatures in certain parts of America up north have fallen as low as -49 degrees Fahrenheit (-45 Celsius), according to the Independent. It was noted that average temperatures in Chicago have gone all the way down to -1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius), constituting the second coldest recorded day in Chicago in the past 150 years.
The people of Chicago and the Midwestern and Northern United States were advised to not breathe too deeply outside, because the extreme cold can be harmful to the lungs. There are other reasons why that advise could be unnerving.
In order to simply keep trains moving, railway staff in Chicago were caught on camera setting the train tracks on fire, to defrost them.
Lake Michigan, one of the largest freshwater bodies on the face of the planet, was photographed in a thick sheet of ice.
Unfortunately at least 21 people so far in the US have lost their lives to this dangerous blast of cold weather, and as one can imagine, thousands of people with no place to call home must have really had to pull some strings to find a place to stay, or suffer fatal consequences. Hopefully the people who don’t have homes during this time found the shelter they need.
This is being called one of the “worst cold snaps to hit the US Midwest in decades,” and somewhere around 250 million Americans in total are said to be affected by it.
As one can imagine, a lot of hospitals are dealing with an influx of patients suffering from things like frostbite.
Some people are taking pictures of their hair frozen solid and things like that, but this is no joke: frostbite is swift and deadly, don’t risk it.
If you know anyone in the zone affected by this weather, please advise them not to go outside and perform menial tasks for any reason. Shoveling snow in this weather could take a person’s life before they get a chance to go back inside.