Here's what the polar vortex looks like from NASA's heat-mapping satellite

Scott Olson  Getty Images

Bryan Jackson, a National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist, said that the core of the vortex was pulling north into eastern Canada, though residual icy air was still pushing over to the US Northeast.

"They are life-threatening temperatures, and they should be treated accordingly", Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel cautioned residents Wednesday evening.

Meteorologists linked the brutally cold weather to the so-called polar vortex, a cap of icy air that usually circles the North Pole. The death toll rose from a previous 12 after at least nine more people in Chicago were reported to have died from cold-related injuries, according to Stathis Poulakidas, a doctor at the city's John H Stroger Jr Hospital. Hospital of Cook County, said almost 50 patients had sought treatment for frostbite in recent days, about half of them homeless.

Cable worker Brian Stachovic said he was up an electrical pole for only five minutes on Thursday before his fingers and toes went numb, and he had to go inside to avoid frostbite.

The deaths recorded in the United States included an elderly IL resident who was found several hours after he fell while trying to get home and a University of Iowa student found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn. The wind chill at the time officers found Belz was minus 51F (minus 46 C), according to the National Weather Service.

Schools and businesses remained closed in several midwestern states, people were encouraged to stay home, and travellers were stranded by grounded flights and halted trains. It's an incredibly powerful tool that has aided the weather forecasting community in more accurately predicting changes over both the short and long term.

In Detroit, General Motors Co suspended operations at 11 MI plants to cut natural gas consumption.

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For the second day in a row, the intense cold and windy conditions forced United States airlines to cancel more than 2,000 flights.

Detroit, which clocked in at -14 on Thursday, a 99-year record low, could hit 45 degrees on Sunday and 50 degrees Monday.

And while thousands of flights were canceled and delayed, mostly out of Chicago, the flight-tracking site FlightAware reported cancellations were down to just over 750 and delays just over 130.

More than 30 record lows were shattered across the Midwest.

Temperatures on Friday afternoon ranged from the teens to the twenties, after cities like Chicago experienced sub-zero temperatures for two days and opened additional warming centres for the homeless.

MI and many states in the Midwest have been in a cold weather pattern over the last six days that has gotten progressively worse: we have had icy rain, sleet, snow, blowing and drifting, zero visibility, temperatures below zero, and wind chills as low as -30. "Here we are going right into spring-like temperatures".



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