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Monday, 6 January 2014

Extreme cold weather grips parts of the USA and Canada

Monday 06 January 2014

CAUSES

The Polar Vortex



The polar vortex is a fast flowing stream of air that circles the North Pole during the winter months. The cold air moves around the pole and traps in the cold Arctic temperatures.


On the boundary between the warm and cold air there are Rossby waves. Rossby waves are high altitude, fast moving westerly winds, which often follow an irregular path. The path that they take changes throughout the seasons. However, at the moment, the wave has moved further south than normal, bringing Arctic air to parts of the USA that would normally be too far south to experience such weather conditions.


Source - US National Weather Service


Additional video explanation here



CONSEQUENCES

It is so cold, that even boiling water freezes as it hits the cold air. Watch this:

Michigan lighthouses frozen in time:

Source - Daily Mail
More stunning images of the lighthouse and pier here

As of Monday 6 January:

  • 13 people have died as a result of the weather, 11 of those as a result of road accidents.
  • Hundreds of schools have been forced to close.
  • People have been advised to stay in their homes as exposure can lead to frostbite.
  • 3,500 flights have been cancelled in the USA
  • 15,000 customers were without power in the state of Indiana, 6,800 in Illinois and 2,200 in Missouri.
  • In Illinois ‘Warming Centres’ have been opened for those without the ability to warm their homes.

It's so cold in Canada that cars are frozen to the ground! VIDEO report here

View images of the previous few days here




Many have experienced Frostquakes...  but what are they?

Loud explosions heard in parts of Canada are being blamed on a phenomenon called frostquakes.


Known to experts as cryoseisms, frostquakes happen when moisture that has seeped into the ground freezes very quickly. It expands and builds up pressure, causing the frozen soil or rock near the surface to crack, emitting a sound that people have likened to a sonic boom.

These diagrams explain further: http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/frost-quakes/

More details on the impacts:




Sources: CNN; BBC News; BBC Weather; Daily Telegraph; Global and Mail; CBC News; ABC News; S-Cool; Mail Online; ITV News; Channel 4 News; US National Weather Service


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