Polar vortex death toll climbs to 21

Polar vortex turns fatal, forces shut down of several services

Temperatures in the Upper Midwest were forecast to rise above -18°C on Friday, and reach as high 4°C by Saturday, while the central Plains would experience temperatures of about 15°C, the weather service said.

Homeless people have been particularly at risk, with warming shelters set up across cities. Across the US Midwest, the sudden warmth was sure to bring more broken roads and busted water mains.

"This morning is some of the coldest of the temperatures across the upper Midwest and we still have some risky wind chills", Andrew Orrison, a forecaster for the National Weather Service said.

"Due to extremely high demand for natural gas with these record low temperatures and a facility incident, Consumers Energy has asked that everyone who is able to turn down their thermostats through Friday at noon so we can all get through this with minimal harm", Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

"So we're going from 21 below zero (Fahrenheit) in Chicago Thursday morning to near 50 above on Monday", he said.

Explaining the phenomenon, Subrath-Ali said, "The very cold air in a polar vortex is kept within the polar regions by fast-moving winds (jet streams) that surround it".

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Although the cause of Belz's death is still unknown what we do know is that Iowa wind chill temperatures dropped to a deadly -51°F around the same time he was found. Homie, that's 100 degrees away from 51°F.

Thus far the polar vortex has claimed the lives of at least eight people.

Temperatures are forecast to rise in the coming days, with highs reaching the 50s in IN on Sunday. Minneapolis recorded minus-24 degrees, and wind chills were as low as minus-38, an improvement from a day earlier.

The phenomenon is described by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the Earth's North and South poles.

Amtrak train services that had been halted since Wednesday in Chicago's hub resumed yesterday, as did USA postal services that were halted or limited in six Midwest states.

A cntraveler.com story said, "As of 11.30 am January 31 more than 2,000 flights have been cancelled for Wednesday, when temperatures hit their lowest, according to flight tracker FlightAware".

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And Amtrak, which ordinarily runs 55 trains to or from Chicago each day, said it had canceled all of its Wednesday services involving the city and that most Thursday trains would also be scratched.

The CTA plans to operate its train and bus service as scheduled, though it delays emerged on almost all lines as rush hour began.

Metra trains will run on a modified scheduled.

The lowest temperatures are shown in purple and blue and range from -40 degrees Fahrenheit (also -40 degrees Celsius) to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius). Fiat Chrysler canceled a shift on Thursday at two of its automobile plants.

Power issues drastically subsided by Thursday as well, with only 155 ComEd customers reporting no power about noon, according to the electric company's power outage map. Elsewhere, a man was struck by a snowplow in the Chicago area, a young couple's SUV struck another on a snowy road in northern in and a Milwaukee man froze to death in a garage, authorities said.

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