It's a new world of weather these days and good old-fashioned terminology just isn't cutting it. Severe snowstorms are now called snowicanes and an unprecedented bitterly-cold front will forever be coined as a polar vortex, a name of such vast and disturbing proportions no doubt Hollywood is busy writing the script. Despite the fact we are all trying to head into spring here in North America, many of us are still reeling from the devastating effects that this weather system created across states and provinces of the US and Canada in early 2014.
To put it into perspective, during the polar vortex the temperatures in the US were on par with those of the coldest places in the world including Siberia and Mongolia. The cause of the polar vortex is likely up for debate between those who do and don't believe in climate change but the facts are simple. The surge of frigid Arctic air that froze houses, pipes, highways, and even Hell (read on...) was the result of a cold front that surged our way, thanks to dark open ocean water near the North Pole that is no longer covered by sea ice. These new conditions are believed to have helped propel the jet stream down into an unsuspecting US, when it usually just stays around Canada where they're all prepared for extremes. As to why the sea ice melted away? That's a difficult one for the climate change non-believers...
The aftermath of the polar vortex was severe, with fatalities and destruction left behind in its icicled wake. It affected 380 million people in the US and Canada, setting record levels of snowfall, freezing rain, wind chills and bleak temperatures in almost all 50 US states, including -6C in Hawaii. Here are some of the biggest and most bizarre media stories of 2014's epic winter blizzard.
10 A Chicago Polar Bear Stays Inside
9 Deep Freeze Man
8 Jailbreaker Turns Himself In
7 Freezing Football Game
6 Grounded Flights in the 1000s
5 Travel Ban Makes Driving Illegal
4 Amtrak Passengers Stranded Overnight
3 300+ Car Pile-Up
2 Massive Power Outages and a Powerless Wedding
1 Hell Literally Freezes Over
No, we don't mean figuratively speaking. Hell really did froze over in January. Journos had a great time with headlines when the small town of Hell, Michigan hit temperatures of -20C, while local residents were forced to plow their way through foot deep snow that left many vehicles stuck and stranded across roadways. The probably sent many individuals who had uttered "it will be a cold day in hell" oaths into paranoid hiding.
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