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[PHOTOS] 17 Spine-Chilling Photos From The Polar Vortex That Hit The US This Week

WARNING: This story might make you believe that the world is pretty much ending.

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Some of the areas in the US has dropped to their coldest temperatures in years as a Polar Vortex flooded the country from Canada, spreading into the Midwest and expanding to other states from coast to coast

A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow as the Gateway Arch appears in the distance on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Wind chill in Minnesota reached to -50 degrees Fahrenheit, that's cold enough for exposed skin to get frostbite in five minutes

A woman walks in frigid cold temperatures though downtown Chicago, Illinois, January 6, 2014.

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Dozens of other places saw sub-zero weather, temperatures so cold that many officials shut down schools, highways and tourist attractions as a means to try to keep people inside

A commuter walks across the Chicago River in sub-zero temperatures.

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Among the deaths since late last week, from the bitter cold and snow and ice in the Midwest, were 6 in Michigan, 4 in Indiana, 3 in Wisconsin, 2 in Illinois and 1 in Missouri

Four homeless men warm themselves on a steam grate by the Federal Trade Commission, blocks from the Capitol, during frigid temperatures in Washington

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Homeless shelters across the country were overwhelmed by people seeking shelter from the cold, which the National Weather Service warned was severe enough in North Dakota and Minnesota to freeze human flesh in five minutes

Nicholas Simmons warms himself on a steam grate with three homeless men by the Federal Trade Commission, just blocks from the Capitol, during frigid temperatures in Washington

Image via independent.co.uk

Forecasters said that the effects of the system, a swirling mass of North Pole air that has pushed unusually far south, would be felt by as many as 187 million people, more than half the country’s population

A woman walks through a gust of blowing snow in frigid cold temperatures though downtown Chicago, Illinois

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Hard freeze warnings for Tuesday extended all the way south to the Gulf Coast. In Texas, one utility asked people to turn down the thermostat because the power capacity was running low

North Avenue Beach looked more like an ice rink on January 6, as Chicago temperatures fell farther than they ever had before.

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Residents of Indiana and Kentucky were warned not to leave their homes as temperatures dropped into the single digits, and wind chill in the minus 20s and below

A view of the War Memorial in Indianapolis, Indiana. According to news reports, Indianapolis received about 30 centimeters of snow and the morning temperature was -9 degrees Celsius

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The record-breaking freeze is being caused by a wavy and elongated jet stream, which is carrying Arctic air far more to the south than normal

A man barrels through single digit temperatures in New York City as he walks by a steam vent

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Tens of thousands of people were still without power in Illinois and Indiana because of weekend snowstorms, and the cold made it dangerous for the workers trying to get the lights and heat back on

Icicles hang from a municipal building at Navy Yard Park in Amherstburg, Ontario as winds blow in from the Detroit River during sub-zero temperatures on January 6, 2014

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Thousands of air travellers remained stranded as JetBlue and other airlines cancelled scores of flights in and out of Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports due to the double whammy of last week’s snowstorm and the Polar Vortex

A man waits for a flight at Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Thousands of flights were canceled yesterday due to freezing temperatures.

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The temperatures are the coldest for some parts of the country in two decades

A couple walks through the winter white-out on Swan Avenue in Webster Groves

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The Polar Vortex, referred by NBC weather icon Al Roker as a "Polar Hurricane," is a weather system that is usually seen in Canada, but has moved south

Pedestrians cross Woodward Avenue in Detroit on Monday as the snow comes down

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The Polar Vortex effect was so powerful that it was blamed for high winds and huge ocean swells on the southwest coast of Britain, caused by an expansive, deep atmospheric depression over the Atlantic Ocean

Ice builds up along Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach in Chicago, Illinois

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A detailed definition of a Polar Vortex is pretty complicated and over the heads of most folks without a background in meteorology, but according to NBC news weatherman Al Roker, you can “think of it as a polar hurricane”

Downtown Windsor, Ont. appears to be in a deep freeze from this perspective from the city's east end looking over a frozen portion of the Detroit River on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.

Image via windsorstar.com

That is, a spinning mass of extremely cold air high in the atmosphere, typically rotating counterclockwise around the north and south poles

Detroit is still dealing with several icy inches of snow in the wake of Winter Storm Hercules and the polar vortex that has engulfed much of the nation.

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Although, the good news is that this Polar Vortex is expected to retreat relatively quickly. The large amount of warmer air in the more southerly US states will rapidly break down the cold polar air masses

Mist rises along Lake Michigan.

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