A Historical “Bomb Cyclone” Freezes North America
The extremely cold weather in North America is due to a phenomenon called "bomb cyclone", reported AFP.
The US National Weather Service said this "once-in-a-generation event" could turn deadly and has already broken records for cold weather. Temperatures drop to minus 53ºC in Western Canada, -38ºC in Minnesota and -13ºC in Dallas.
It even snows in subtropical northern Florida.
A bomb cyclone is a rapidly intensifying storm that occurs when air pressure drops by 20 or more millibars within 24 hours.
This usually happens when a warm air mass collides with a cold one, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.
This time, air from the Arctic collided with tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico, forming a depression that brought rain and snow.
What makes this storm extraordinary is how quickly the pressure dropped - 40 millibars in 24 hours, according to meteorologist Jan Amis.
"This led to the development of extreme storm conditions," said Cyril Duchesne, a meteorologist with the French weather channel.
The unprecedented nature of this storm comes from the intensity and extremes of its cold temperatures, Duchesne said.
"That's what makes her special," he said.
The storm has caused a "polar vortex dip", where a particularly cold air mass from the Arctic is driven south into lower, warmer latitudes.
As a result, temperatures plummet - in Denver, for example, temperatures dropped by 33ºC in just seven hours.
The US National Weather Service has warned that such cold can lead to frostbite to exposed skin within minutes, hypothermia and even death if a person is exposed to these conditions for too long.
This makes any journey "dangerous" and even "impossible", she added.
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