UK & World News

  • 26 February 2014, 11:09

US Set To Shiver As Polar Vortex Bites Again

People in Minneapolis have woken to sub zero temperatures for 49 days this winter.

Local weatherman Ian Leonard has run out of ways of telling them what is on its way.

"How do I make it entertaining?" he asks, only half in jest.

Imagine his predicament. It is not exactly fair, but someone has to take the blame for the worst winter the state of Minnesota has seen in decades.

He said: "People hate me right now. You go into a coffee shop, they give you a sideways glance. It's a tough place to be."

Minnesotans are tough, known for their forbearance in a state that plunges them into the freezer in winter and the sauna in summer.

They are used to being asked by other Americans why they live here.

But Mr Leonard say this winter, "they're asking themselves, why DO we live here?"

On the streets of a residential suburb we found Letitia de-icing her car in just a pair of jeans and a shirt. 

She said: "This is one of the coldest years this is really cold. Keeps getting colder."

Snow drifts four or five feet deep line deserted streets. People hurry from their homes to their cars, warned more than a few minutes outside exposes them to the risk of frostbite.

Temperatures this cold have not been seen here since the early 80s, but even then they did not start as early as they did this winter or last as long.

The polar vortex is being blamed again. An area of rotating very cold air above the North Pole, kept there normally by a belt of high winds. 

This year, the belt has loosened - letting slip polar air as far south as Alabama.

As many as 180 million Americans are expected to be affected as the polar vortex strikes again this week.

The freak weather has killed people, brought frostbite, traffic chaos and power cuts and astronomical heating bills.

It will not make people like Ian Leonard any more popular, but weather experts like him say there is no sign of any let up. 

The polar vortex is here to say. For now at least.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.