Parts of Niagara falls have frozen as bitter cold weather has swept over most of the northern United States, leaving many areas looking like Narnia.
More than 220million people face below freezing temperatures on Friday, as temperatures are expected to drop further as the New Year’s weekend continues.
And atop Mount Washington, the Northeast’s highest peak, the temperature has hit negative 34 degrees, with a negative 89-degree wind chill and videos showing boiling water being tossed into the air and turning into ‘snow’.
The bitter temperatures have already been blamed for a handful of deaths and canceled in the long list of weekend celebrations. Mountain weather-related headaches continue to pile up in already winter-weary parts of the Midwest and East Cost experiencing highway pileups, frozen pipes, and car thefts.
And though the conditions may be treacherous, gorgeous photos of places such as Niagara Falls show glittering frozen icicles and bright white snow piles almost make the arctic chill worth it.
Icy roads in central Michigan caused more 30 crashes Friday on highways near Flint while a chain-reaction crash involving about 40 vehicles in the southwestern part of the state left three hurt.
Cleanup continued inside Michigan State University’s basketball arena after a frozen water pipe burst and flooded a hallway, but the mess wasn’t expected to interrupt a game Friday.
Coastal South Carolina saw a rare bout of freezing rain and drizzle on Friday that forced bridges from Charleston to Myrtle Beach to shut down for de-icing.
Police in the Cincinnati area says a half-dozen cars have been stolen in recent days after being left running unattended by owners trying to warm them up. Cincinnati police warned in a tweet that leaving your car running means ‘the only person who will be warm is the thief who stole your car.’
A call center set up to help people dig out has been overwhelmed. ‘The phones have been ringing off the hook,’ said Josh Jaeger, a coordinator for the center told the Erie Times-News.
Diann Wears, of Toledo, said she was already fed up with winter as she stood along a slush-covered sidewalk while waiting for a bus.
‘And it’s just the beginning,’ she said Friday. ‘I’m sure it will get worse.’
An arctic wind chill has taken hold of much of the US west of the Rockies. In Erie, Pennsylvania, a storm dumped more than 65 inches of snow in a span of four days.
‘This is a crippling snow event,’ Zach Sefcovic, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said on Wednesday.
‘They are no strangers to snow in that part of the state, but this much snow in that short a time is just unprecedented.’
Sabrina Ram drove into Erie on Christmas Eve to visit her parents just as the snow began to fall. Ram, who lives in suburban Washington, DC, and her father spent five hours on Christmas and two hours on Tuesday clearing the driveway.
‘In DC, we’d be out of commission for weeks,’ Ram said. ‘Things here are pretty much back to normal now.’
The winter blast in Erie was caused by cold Arctic air moving over the lake, which had relatively mild water temperatures, forecasters said.
A reinforcing surge of arctic air traveling south from Canada has been the cause of a great deal of frigid conditions.
Weather observers atop the Northeast’s highest peak say the temperature has hit negative 34 degrees, a record for the day. Adam Gill, of the Mount Washington Observatory, said the previous record of negative 31 degrees was set in 1933.
The Observatory posted a video on Facebook showing him emptying a pitcher of boiling water into the air, where it immediately turned to ice crystals in the cold and hurricane-force winds.
‘Basically, as that water is very rapidly freezing, since it’s starting off very warm, those molecules are a little bit more separated,’ weather observer Tom Tadham told WMUR.
‘And then as it’s freezing very rapidly, it’s basically going instantaneously into a vapor where the gashes stay but as ice crystals.’
Several deaths have been linked to the wintry weather during the past week.
In South Dakota, an 83-year-old woman died from exposure to the cold after she crashed her car and then got out to look for help. Search crews found her body in a ditch on Sunday. Three people were found dead in a canal along Lake Erie earlier this week after their car slid off an icy road.
The National Weather Service reported International Falls, Minnesota, the self-proclaimed Icebox of the Nation, plunged to 37 degrees below zero, breaking the old record of 32 below set in 1924.
Wind chill advisories or warnings were in effect for much of New England, northern Pennsylvania and New York. Those places and states in the northern Plains and Great Lakes were projected to see highs in the teens or single digits and lows below zero for the rest of the week and into the new year.
Forecasters warned of hypothermia and frostbite from arctic air settling in over the central US and spreading east. Weathers observers say frostbite can set in as early as 30 seconds.
It’s been so cold that even sharks are freezing to death. Two thresher sharks were found washed up along Massachusetts’s Cape Cod Bay after being ‘stranded due to cold shock’ amid plunging temperatures this week.
Frigid conditions in Boston took their toll on the nation’s fifth-largest transit system.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has spent heavily to winterize what’s known as the ‘T’ since it was crippled by record-breaking snowfall in 2015. But the agency reported ‘severe delays’ on one of its lines Friday, citing a broken piece of track and a disabled train, among other problems.
And organizers of the L Street Brownies plunge scoffed when asked if they were scared off by the weather.
‘It’s a go. It’s always a go. We never give up,’ Dan Monahan told the Boston Herald about the event that attracts more than 600 swimmers each year and has gone on for more than a century. ‘We’re stubborn people in Boston. We’re about tradition.’
The cold has been a nightmare for cars on the roads. In Minnesota, more than 1100 crashes and 330 spin outs occurred this week.
Meanwhile, in South Dakota, an 83-year-old woman died from exposure to the cold after crashing her car.
KELO-TV reports that police believe Nina Bradenburg left her car to look for help after crashing on a gravel road near the tiny rural town of Revillo, just west of the Minnesota state line, on Saturday.
Police officers found the car first but with no driver inside. They found Brandenburg’s body in a ditch on Sunday, where she had died of exposure. The National Weather Service says temperatures in the area fell as low as two degrees Fahrenheit overnight.
The National Weather Service predicts another blast of arctic air will chill much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. through the weekend and into 2018.
Temperatures could fall into the single digits as far south as Oklahoma and sink to zero or below Friday night in Nebraska and Iowa and remain there for at least three days.
‘It’s pretty unusual to get that long of a streak where it’s completely below zero,’ said Iowa’s State Climatologist Harry Hillaker. ‘Historically, that doesn’t happen very often in Des Moines.’
The Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies braced for storms forecasters warned could bring several feet of mountain snow and freezing rain.
With the bitter cold expected to stick around, many New Year’s Eve plans are being scuttled.
Shore towns in New Jersey canceled plans for polar bear plunges in the Atlantic Ocean and organizers pulled the plug on the annual light bulb drop in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.
Fireworks shows have been called off in Omaha and at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. And New York City’s Coney Island says it will be too cold for free rides on the Wonder Wheel and Thunderbolt roller coaster.
Animal advocates urged people to protect their pets from the cold. Wild animals weren’t immune from the dangers of winter, either.
In Ohio, wildlife officers mulled how to rescue a deer stuck on an ice-covered river. They managed to lasso the deer with a rope and pull it to shore Friday, but they had to euthanize the injured animal.
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