Waiting for the thaw: USA gets a reprieve after the deep freeze

Waiting for the thaw: USA gets a reprieve after the deep freeze

Waiting for the thaw: USA gets a reprieve after the deep freeze

An Arctic air mass blamed for the deaths of more than 20 people in the U.S. began moving out to sea Friday, easing its grip on about a dozen states that have endured days of record-breaking cold.

"The cold air isn't pushing off anywhere, it's just sort of evaporating", said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

If you've been following the news at all, you probably already know what's to blame: the dreaded "polar vortex", which describes a large area of low pressure and cold air that surrounds both poles of the earth.

While temperatures in much of Midwest (including Minneapolis and Chicago) and Northeast (including Buffalo and Vermont) were hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit, the weather is expected to warm up during the weekend. Shifting air currents caused it to slip down through Canada and into the Us Midwest during the week.

The Washington DC area, which had 20°F (-7°C) temperatures, was under a winter weather advisory until the afternoon as around one inch (2.5cm) of snowfall accumulated during the morning.

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A brutal cold spell that paralysed the United States Midwest, freezing water mains, causing power outages and cancelling flights, has eased, with forecasts predicting a rapid thaw. Local media reported that the 18-year-old was found unconscious outside a university building when temperatures were in the negative double digits in Iowa City.

In the Upper Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana and OH, temperatures will reach well above zero F (minus 18 Celsius) on Friday, with highs making it into the teens and low 20s.

Forecasters expect that by Saturday, highs will be in the 30s and even low 40s in the Midwest. The central Plains will be in the low 60s, almost 20 to 25 degrees above normal, the weather service said.

The lowest temperature recorded early yesterday morning was -37C in Stonington, Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

USA media reported as many as 21 weather-related deaths since a snow storm hit the Midwest early last week, followed by plunging temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Officials across multiple states linked at least 20 deaths to the deep freeze.

Stathis Poulakidas, a burn surgeon at Chicago's John H. Stroger Jr.

Amtrak restored rail service to and from Chicago on Friday, and the U.S. Postal Services resumed mail delivery in six Midwest states after suspending it for days.

More than 2,300 flights were cancelled across the US on Thursday, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

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