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What happened on 31 January 2019?

Ice and water flows over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.

Ice and water flows over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AP

Deep freeze

Tens of millions of Americans braved Arctic-like temperatures on January 31 as low as minus 49 degrees Celsius that paralysed the U.S. Midwest and were blamed for 21 deaths. News agencies said warmer than normal weather was on the way, but that offered little comfort to the homeless enduring a chill that caused frostbite in minutes. The cold has been blamed on a phenomenon called the 'polar vortex'. Meteorologist Mark Chenard said a polar vortex refers to the upper level jet stream that circulates around both the North and South Poles, keeping the coldest air there. When that jet stream occasionally weakens and buckles, he told Reuters, it disrupts weather patterns — bumping warmer air into Alaska and pushing cold winds down into the U.S. Midwest and East Coast. Pictures show ice flowing in the Merrimack River as it heads to the Atlantic Ocean in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and the impact of freezing temperatures on the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara in Canada.

Ice flows fill the Merrimack River as it heads towards the Atlantic Ocean in Newburyport, Massachusetts during the extreme cold temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex, bringing temperatures below freezing, on January 31, 2019. A brutal cold wave moved eastward Thursday after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. The extreme weather has now been blamed for as many as eight deaths, US news outlets reported.

Ice flows fill the Merrimack River as it heads towards the Atlantic Ocean in Newburyport, Massachusetts during the extreme cold temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex, bringing temperatures below freezing, on January 31, 2019. A brutal cold wave moved eastward Thursday after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. The extreme weather has now been blamed for as many as eight deaths, US news outlets reported.   | Photo Credit: AFP

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 9:52:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/what-happened-on-31-january-2019/article26162423.ece

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