Town of Hell, Michigan freezes over in US cold snap

Town of Hell, Michigan freezes over in US cold snap

There may not have been a month of Sundays and the moon hasn’t turned blue, but hell has definitely frozen over.

Hell, Michigan that is.

Caught in the grip of the polar vortex that has crashed into the United States, the town of 800, has seen its temperature gauge free fall to minus 25C.

This means Hell, or at least the Hell that is 100 kilometres west of Detroit, is actually five degrees colder than the Scott-Amundsen Base at the South Pole in Antarctica.

It’s a community which revels in its name. The local bar is called the Hell Hole, the local shops sells merchandise emblazoned with “666” and, normally, you can pose by a sign which says “Go to Hell”.

But not today. Like much of the Midwestern and north eastern US and central Canada, Hell is struggling under conditions not seen in a generation, according to forecasters.

Eight people are dead, one man found “cold and frozen” at his front door. Parts of the Niagara Falls have solidified into ice while a small town in Minnesota called Ponsford saw its overnight temperature drop to -66C. There have been warnings of frostbite after just 10 minutes of being exposed to the conditions.

Even parts of normally balmy Alabama are shivering through sub zero temperatures.

“This could possibly be history-making,” Ricky Castro, National Weather Service meteorology told the BBC.

Chicago is likely to plummet to -32C on Wednesday night US time, just one degree above its lowest ever temperature in 1994. With wind chill factored it, it could feel more like -47C.

Bizarre footage has been posted to social media from the stricken city of what appears to show Lake Michigan boiling.

Brent Buck recorded the footage from a plane on Wednesday morning. What looked like hot steam was in fact “steam smoke” where freezing air interacts with warmer water creating an eerie fog.

“What negative a billion degrees looks like from the air,” Mr Buck captioned the video which was posted to Instagram.

Others have uploaded images and videos of warm water freezing the moment it interacts with the Arctic air.

More than 1700 flights were cancelled at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, one of the world’s busiest, while long distance trains services have been cancelled.

The US Postal Service has said it will suspend mail deliveries across vast stretches of the country including Detroit, Chicago and western Pennsylvania, due to the potential danger for posties.

Many of the eight deaths have been caused by road accidents in the atrocious conditions. However several people are thought to have simply been caught outdoors while underestimating the conditions.

Gerald Belz, a student of University of Iowa, was found at 3am unresponsive behind a campus building. He was taken to hospital but never recovered.

In Milwaukee a 55-year-old man was found “cold and frozen” inside his garage. Next to him was a spade for shovelling snow.

In Illinois one man was killed when he collided with snow plough.

A zebra on a property in Indiana collapsed and froze to death when it became tangled in a fence.

The east coast is warmer; but you’d hardly call it warm. Washington DC is expected to drop to -19C on Thursday morning, and New York to -27C.

The bitter cold has been caused by a displacement of the polar vortex, a stream of air that normally spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole but whose current has been disrupted and is now pushing south.

Worryingly, these extreme weather events could be becoming increasingly common.

Recent research shows that the frequency of winter polar-vortex events has increased over the past four decades, perhaps because of climate change, Business Insider reported.

Temperatures are rising fast twice as fast in the Arctic as the rest of the planet, which means there is less disparity in temperature between the North Pole and continents at lower latitudes.

That is affecting air pressure levels which weakens the jet stream.

A meandering jet stream can disrupt the natural flow of the polar vortex, leading to what we’ve seen in large areas of North America.

Hell, Michigan, isn’t the only Hell on Earth. There’s also one in the Cayman Islands and even a town called Hell for Certain in Kentucky, in case you were in any doubt.

There’s another cold Hell, this one situated in Norway that freezes over for a third of a year. But with it usually getting no colder than -25C, the Michigan and Norway Hells are now level pegging for icy temperatures.

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