US braces for polar vortex

US braces for polar vortex

At least seven people have died this week amid unbearably frigid temperatures and snowy conditions in the US Midwest — including a nine-year-old boy and a man who was hit by a city snowplow.

The bitter polar vortex has caused the mercury to plunge more than 40 degrees below zero in some states to historically low temperatures, making it extremely dangerous to drive or even go outside, the New York Post reports.

More than 2500 flights have been cancelled and postal services have been halted.

Forecasters are warning that frostbite could set in within seconds and advised against breathing deeply if outside.

Temperatures plunged to as low as -41C in Park Rapids, Minnesota and -35C in Fargo, North Dakota.

Forecasters predict that Chicago will be colder than parts of Alaska, the North Pole and Antarctica by tonight.

Wind chills in northern Illinois made it feel as cold as -50C.

Governors in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan have all declared emergencies.

Crews in Chicago were force to set train tracks on fire to prevent switches being clogged up with snow and ice.

In Libertyville, Illinois, a snowplow struck and killed a 75-year-old man using a snow blower at the end of his driveway on Monday, local reports said.

The snowplow driver was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, according to WGN 9.

Also on Monday, Joshua Peterson, 31, died when he lost control of his car, hit a light pole and was ejected on an icy interstate highway just north of Des Moines, Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported.

State patrol officers said the man had been driving too fast in the dangerous conditions.

Another crash Sunday killed Joshua Tavares, 9, in Iowa, when the car he was in lost traction and rolled into a ditch, Radio Iowa reported. Five other people were hurt, the Iowa State Patrol said.

Meanwhile, a young couple — Ligonier, Indiana, police officer Ethan Kiser, 22, and his wife, Shawna Kiser, 21 — died when their SUV smacked into another on a snowy road Monday, officials said.

On Tuesday, two men were found frozen to death: An 82-year-old man was found suffering from hypothermia outside his home in Pekin, Illinois, when the high was minus 11 degrees, the Peoria County Coroner’s Office said, according to WEEK.

Meanwhile, a 55-year-old man who had been shovelling snow was also found dead in a detached garage near his home in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission

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