Extreme weather

At least nine people killed by record-breaking freeze that has gripped US and Canada

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2018, 2:14am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2018, 3:29am

At least nine people have been killed by a bone-chilling cold that has gripped the US and Canada, breaking century-old records and leaving both countries dangerously frigid.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories and freeze warnings on Tuesday across a vast area from South Texas to Canada and from Montana through New England.

But it was too late for at least nine people who died of weather-related causes over the past week.

Most recently, police in St Louis said a homeless man found dead inside a trash bin Monday evening apparently frozen to death as the temperature dropped to minus-21 degrees Celsius (minus-5.8 Fahrenheit).

A 27-year-old woman’s body was found on the shore of Lake Winnebago Monday evening. Sheriff’s officials in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin said she likely died of exposure.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said two men whose bodies were found on Sunday showed signs of hypothermia.

Police believe the cold weather also may have been a factor in the death of a man in Bismarck, North Dakota, whose body was found near a river.

It’s so cold in Canada that even the penguins can’t take it

Authorities opened warming shelters in the southern states as temperatures dipped close to zero degrees (32 Fahrenheit) in Alabama and Georgia.

Despite the bitter cold across much of the Midwest on Monday, hundreds of people rang in the new year by jumping into Lake Michigan.

Throngs of people took part in the Polar Plunge in Milwaukee, despite sub-zero temperatures and a warning of potential hypothermia from the local fire chief.

Organisers cancelled a similar event on the Chicago lakefront after temperatures dropped below zero, saying the arctic conditions made jumping into the lake too dangerous.

The annual New Year’s Day water ski show on Pigeon Lake in western Michigan was cancelled for the first time since the event was launched in 1980 because the water was frozen solid.

Temperatures plunged well below zero degrees Celsius elsewhere in the US Midwest.

In pictures: Deep freeze grips Canada and US

Aberdeen, South Dakota broke a 99-years-old record with minus-36-degree (-32.8F) weather on New Year’s Day.

In Omaha, Nebraska, temperatures hit minus-26 (minus-14.8) before midnight on Sunday, breaking a record low dating back to 1884.

Omaha officials cited the forecast in postponing the 18th annual New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular that draws around 30,000 people.

An outdoor ice skating rink in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, was closed, with city officials said it would not reopen until the city emerged from sub-zero temperatures. The temperature dropped to minus-29 (minus-20.2F) on Monday, with the wind chill plunging to minus-35 (minus-31F).

The weather service said temperatures in Indianapolis on Tuesday tied a record low of minus-24 (minus-11.2F) for January 2 set in 1887.

Indianapolis Public Schools cancelled classes for Tuesday on all its campuses. Students had been expected to return from winter break.

Plunging overnight temperatures in Texas brought rare snow flurries as far south as Austin, causing accidents to rack up on icy roads across the state.

In central Texas’ city of Abilene, the local police chief said more than three-dozen vehicle crashes had been reported in 24 hours.

US town is completely buried by epic snowstorm

Even in the Deep South, temperatures plummeted early Tuesday to minus-10 (14F) in Atlanta and minus-3 (26.6F) as far south as New Orleans.

Georgia saw one of its coldest temperatures of the winter, only 2 degrees (35.6F) just before dawn at a US Forest Service weather station at Toccoa, Georgia.