Freezing weather in US starting to ease | News | DW | 01.02.2019
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Freezing weather in US starting to ease

The frigid weather that moved down from the Arctic and caused temperatures to plummet in the Midwest and Northeast of the US have started to rise. The weather caused 21 deaths and hundreds of flight cancellations.

The freezing weather that paralyzed a large swath of the United States this week and caused at least 21 deaths began easing on Friday as an Arctic air mass pulled away. It means a warmer weekend is forecast for the Midwest and the Northeast. 

Temperatures from southern New England to the Upper Midwest should climb back up to the mid-40s to low 50s Fahrenheit (4 to 10 degrees Celsius) through the weekend and Monday, forecasters said.

Meteorologists linked the brutally cold weather to the so-called polar vortex, a cap of icy air that usually circles the North Pole. Changing air currents caused it to slip down through Canada and into the US Midwest this week.

Read more: Understanding the polar vortex

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

On Friday morning, temperatures ranged from below zero Fahrenheit to the teens in parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

"That cold air that was over the Great Lakes, over the Midwest, has shifted off. Now the high pressure is over Pennsylvania and New York," Jackson said in a phone interview.

"As it moves east, it'll bring in air from the south and we do expect it to warm up over the weekend."

Warmer weekend

In the Upper Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, temperatures will reach well above zero F (minus 18 Celsius) on Friday, with highs making it into the teens and low 20s.

Even so, parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa were still experiencing temperatures in the negative single digits, Jackson said.

The lowest temperature recorded early Friday morning was minus 34 Fahrenheit in Stonington, Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

Spray from Lake Erie froze covered benches in thick ice (picture-alliance/newscom/A. Josefczyk)

The coldest temperature was recorded in Michigan

Forecasters expect that by Saturday, highs will be in the 30s and even low 40s in the Midwest. The central Plains will be in the low 60s, nearly 20 to 25 degrees above normal, the weather service said.

Officials across multiple states have blamed numerous deaths on the frigid air. The death toll rose 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.

Thousands of flights were canceled and delayed earlier in the week, mostly out of Chicago, but on Friday the flight-tracking site FlightAware reported nationwide cancellations down to just over 950.

Watch video 01:59

Nearly half of US under wind chill advisories

av/ng (Reuters, AP)

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