• 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.