Saturday 21 October 2017

Arctic blast loosens its grip on US

The frozen mist from Niagara Falls coats the landscape around Prospect Point at Niagara Falls State Park, New York. The Polar Vortex brought high winds and frigid temperatures to the area. AP Photo/James Neiss
The frozen mist from Niagara Falls coats the landscape around Prospect Point at Niagara Falls State Park, New York. The Polar Vortex brought high winds and frigid temperatures to the area. AP Photo/James Neiss

Ray Henry in Atlanta

An arctic blast has eased its grip on much of the eastern US, with winds calming and the weather warming slightly a day after temperature records -- some more than a century old -- were shattered.

Authorities reported at least 21 cold-related deaths across the country since Sunday.

At least five people died after collapsing while shovelling snow, while several victims were identified as homeless people who either refused shelter or didn't make it to a warm haven soon enough.

In a phenomenon that forecasters said is actually not all that unusual, all 50 states saw freezing temperatures at some point on Tuesday. That included Hawaii, where it was 18F (--8C) atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano.

In Atlanta, where a record low of 6F (--14C) hit early on Tuesday, the forecast yesterday was sunny and a more normal 42F (5C).

The big chill started in the Midwest over the weekend, caused by a kink in the "polar vortex", the strong winds that circulate around the North Pole. The icy air covered about half the country by Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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