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US deep freeze: take care when you fly, inhale or speak

January 31, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Thousands of flights are being cancelled in the US, where a freakish cold snap has plunged the weather over parts of the country into a chill so bitter that even inhaling deeply can be dangerous.

FlightAware’s whimsically named online “Misery Map” yesterday put total cancellations within, into, or out of the US at over 2100 flights. Total delays: 3825 flights and rising. Major airlines have issued travel waivers.

All Amtrak trains in and out of Chicago have been cancelled and emergency rail crews were reported yesterday to be setting some tracks on fire to prevent the intense cold from warping the rails.

The potentially record-breaking cold is being felt mainly in Chicago and the Midwest, but the weather is moving south. Even in balmy Los Angeles, the thermometer is currently hovering around 15C maximum.

The US National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa, has advised: “To protect your lungs from severely cold air, avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.” A wind chill warning is in effect until noon tomorrow, with temperatures expected to dive to minus 30.5 C.

Thousands of flights to and from Chicago have been cancelled, with heavy snow and gusting winds whipping up blizzard-like conditions. Chicago O’Hare, one of the world’s busiest airports, is a major hub for United and American Airlines. Chicago Midway is a major base for Southwest Airlines.

Detroit, Milwaukee and Minneapolis are also being hit as a powerful “polar vortex”, a phenomenon that many experts link to climate change, is driving deep-freeze conditions.

Written by Peter Needham

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