The American Midwest and Northeast are preparing for a "polar vortex," a megastorm that is expected to bring record low temperatures on Monday. So far extreme weather conditions have claimed at least 16 lives, paralyzed travel and caused power shortage.
For those exposed to the inclement conditions frostbite and hypothermia will be a danger as – 31°C is expected in North Dakota, - 35 °C in Minnesota, and - 26 degrees below Celsius in Indianapolis and Chicago. Adding the wind chill factor, the temperature could feel as low as – 56 °C.
The freezing air began to spread Sunday reaching areas as far south as the Gulf Coast.
“It may feel as cold as negative 50 to negative 60 on Sunday night over sections of the north-central states,” the Tom Moore, from the National Weather Service said to NBC News.
“In those conditions, frost bite sets in on exposed skin within five minutes…a person not properly dressed could die easily in those conditions," Moore added.
Such harsh and freezing temperatures have not been witnesses in the region for 20 years.
Meteorologists blame the weather conditions on a "polar vortex," a dense pool of counterclockwise-rotating air.
"It's just a large area of very cold air that comes down, forms over the North Pole or polar regions ... usually stays in Canada, but this time it's going to come all the way into the eastern United States," said National Weather Service meteorologist Phillip Schumacher.
As freezing temperatures hit the US, authorities are moving to protect some of the more vulnerable members of society.
“Anybody living out on the streets needs to be rounded up and put into a shelter,” said Moore to MSNBC News. “The repercussions for not could be deadly, and I'm afraid we're going to see cases like that,” the official added.
A total of 1,266 flights were canceled across the United States and 6,036 flights delayed on Saturday, with Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey among the most affected, according to tracking firm FlightAware.com.
FULL STORY: http://rt.com/usa/us-canada-weather-snow-191/