Polar Vortex Crippling Planes, Trains, and Waterways

By Anna Breuer on 31 January 2019
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DSC_0798Over 121 million people in the United States are dealing with record cold and dangerous temperatures on Thursday that are colder than the surface of Mars. The extreme cold stretches from the Upper Midwest to Maine and, in many cities, is bringing the coldest temperatures in a generation.

The brutally cold weather has already resulted in the death of 11 people.

Over 75% of the continental United States recorded below freezing temperatures Thursday morning, and over 20% recorded temperatures below 0° F (-18° C).

There have been more than 2,100 flight cancellations in the United States as of 10 a.m. Thursday morning and over 1,200 delays. On Wednesday, a total of 2,896 flights were cancelled and 5,992 were delayed.

The sub-zero temperatures caused problems with public transit systems and the nation’s railways in many parts of the country as well. In Chicago, South Shore and Metra trains were cancelled. Officials set fires along the rails in Chicago to keep some lines moving. Amtrak cancelled all service in and out of Chicago and Michigan. Meanwhile, NJ Transit reported 30-minute delays due to the weather on trains into New York City.

Coast guard cutters were busy keeping shipping lanes open in many places as waterways froze.

In New York City, a sudden snow squall blanketed the city in minutes Wednesday afternoon. “Frost quakes” rattled Chicagoans Thursday morning, causing many to wake up to loud booms that were likely a weather phenomenon known as a cryoseism, which occurs when water underground freezes and expands, causing soil and rock to crack.

Meanwhile, the United States Post Office suspended deliveries in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin due to the extreme cold.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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