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The Polar Vortex hit the U.S. bringing frigid temperatures to the Midwest

Homeless people were found sleeping in the streets in the freezing Chicago weather during the Polar Vortex.

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Homeless people were found sleeping in the streets in the freezing Chicago weather during the Polar Vortex.

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The Polar Vortex shifted south on Jan. 29 and brought the U.S. frigid temperatures. The Midwest and Great Lakes reached record breaking temperatures of 40 to 65 degrees below zero, which is roughly as cold as Antarctica.

The Polar Vortex is a whirling mass of cold air circulating in the upper levels of the atmosphere. It normally stays near the poles by the Arctic, but it broke apart sending cold air south into the U.S. Detroit and Minneapolis were hit with temperatures ranging from five to 15 degrees.

“Where the Polar Vortex goes, so goes the cold air,” Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental research said. “I think at a minimum, we’re looking at [cold winds] mid-February, possibly through mid-March.”

The Polar Vortex brought harsh weather to Chicago, Minnesota, Iowa and most of the upper Midwest where at least 21 people died. Homeless people were left stranded in the streets to freeze. Boston, New York, Chicago, and Washington all have emergency plans used to bring together the police, local shelters, the government, and youth services. Harsh weather tends to crowd shelters in major cities; however, the shelters did not turn homeless people away.

FedEx worker, William Murphy, was found frozen to death between two semi-trailers at the Illinois delivery facility on Jan. 31. Authorities believed he was placing his personal belongings in his car after work on Jan. 29 when he collapsed outside the delivery hub, two days before he was found.

A University of Iowa student was also found unresponsive near a campus building and was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital on Jan 30. “Temperatures were minus-21 degrees with a wind chill of minus-55 at the time,” according to Chicago Tribune.

Ada Salna was found dead covered in snow on the steps of her home in Michigan on Jan. 30. She locked herself out of her house while she was feeding her birds and cats and died of hypothermia.

The temperatures are starting to rise in the U.S., but flooding and ice in the roads have resulted in bridge and road closures.

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The Polar Vortex hit the U.S. bringing frigid temperatures to the Midwest