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Polar vortex update: -70 temperatures, passangers stuck, death tolls rise

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More than one half of the United States citizens are being affected by the hard freeze and extreme cold weather conditions caused by the polar vortex. Some regions are seeing temperatures that are minus 70 degrees, and flesh is freezing in 5 minutes.

There have been 16 cold weather related deaths and counting.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas were asking that residents turn their thermostats down because the power grid was being overwhelmed. They have declared this the "second-highest emergency level" and were worried that they would have no choice but to start rolling blackouts that could have lasted anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes at a time if the electrical grid had become any more strained. They have since canceled the alerts but are still encouraging residents to conserve power.

In Indiana and Illinois more than 22,000 went without power and conditions made it extremely dangerous for workers to help get it back on. George Sipus from Indianapolis Power and Light said,“It’s tough on all of us; you can’t stay out here real long.”

Meanwhile, more than 500 Amtrak passengers were stuck in snowdrifts overnight unreachable by emergency personnel due to the extreme weather. More than 6,000 flights have been canceled since the onset of the polar vortex, and 16 people have died in association with the winter weather.

Americans are describing these polar days as a scene from the movie "Day After Tomorrow" where the world faces a modern day ice-age.

Even the polar bears and penguins have been brought in until the polar vortex has passed over according to Anana Dewar at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. She stated that, "in the wild, they would seasonally eat seals and fatten themselves up with that blubber" but the zoo "don't feed them seals or fatten them up."

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh had to take the bald eagles and African penguins off display as well, even though these are cold weather friendly animals.

What distinguishes a polar vortex?

A polar vortex is a circulating mass of upper level winds that are native to the northern pole region. It is otherwise known as a "polar low-pressure system." The winds trap the frigid cold hence keeping it locked in Arctic regions, normally. When the rare occasion arises that the vortex gets distorted it will then dip south. This has not happened in more than 40 years, so many have never before seen weather like this off of the movie screens.

It is urgent that people stay indoors, and have back up resources to stay warm in the event of power outages.

While this could be akin to global warming, it is not believed to be the cause of the distortion in the polar vortex.

On Monday night throughout Tuesday in the southern region Atlanta will be colder than Anchorage, Alaska. Temperatures are expected to start returning to normal by Thursday.

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