UK & World News
Polar Vortex: Deep Freeze Strikes East And South
The record-breaking polar air blast affecting more than half the US population has spread to the East and South, sending the mercury plunging into the single digits.
The polar vortex that started in the Midwest over the weekend covered about half of the country by Tuesday.
In New York City, the temperature fell to -12C (11F), slightly cooler than Boston's -8C (18F).
Across the South, records were shattered.
Birmingham, Alabama, dipped to a low of -14C, breaking the record of -12C set in 1970.
Atlanta saw a record low of -14C and Nashville, Tennessee, got down to -17C.
It was just -17C at Washington Dulles International airport, eclipsing the 1988 mark of -13C.
The crippling cold continued to impact the Midwest as well, with the mercury dipping to -24C overnight in the Chicago area.
More than 500 Amtrak passengers were stranded overnight on three Chicago-bound trains that were stopped by blowing and drifting snow in Illinois.
In Kentucky, a fugitive who escaped a minimum security facility on Sunday, surrendered to authorities on Monday because of the cold when temperatures plunged to -29C with the wind chill.
The weather also has been blamed for a number of deaths across Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
They included a 48-year-old Chicago man who had a heart attack while shovelling snow on Sunday and an elderly woman who was found outside her Indianapolis home early on Monday.
The worst of the big freeze should be over in the next day or two.
Warmer weather - at least, near or above freezing - is in the forecast for much of the stricken part of the country.
On Tuesday, many schools and day care centres across the eastern half of the US were closed.
Officials opened shelters for the homeless and anyone else who needed a warm place.
With the bitter cold slowing baggage handling and aircraft refuelling, airlines cancelled more than 2,000 flights, bringing the four-day total to more than 11,000.
Pensacola, Florida - a Gulf Coast city better known for its white sand beaches than frost - saw its streets deserted as temperatures plummeted.
Monica Anderson and Tommy Howard jumped up and down and blew on their hands while they waited for a bus.
"I'm not used to it. It is best just to stay inside until it gets better," said Ms Anderson, who added she could not recall it ever being so cold.
PJM Interconnection, which operates the power grid that serves more than 61 million people in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and South, asked users to conserve electricity because of the cold.
Across the South, the Tennessee Valley Authority said power demand in the morning reached the second-highest winter peak in the history of the Depression-era utility.
Temperatures averaged -15C across the utility's seven-state region.
In Chicago, it was too cold even for the polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Although polar bears can handle sub-zero temperatures in the wild, the zoo said Anana was kept inside on Monday because she does not have the thick layer of fat that bears typically get from feeding on seals and whale carcasses.
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