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Arctic blast takes aim at frigid United States

Published on Jan 6, 2014 12:55 AM
Visitors enjoy the snow on Broadway January 2, 2014 on Times Square in New York. Forecasters are predicting up to seven inches of snow in New York. Snowfall in the northeastern United States caused flight cancellations and airport delays while federal government offices and schools closed due to the foul weather. --PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Millions of people in the United States hunkered down Sunday in anticipation of brutal weather from a dangerous Arctic blast that forecasters warn could send freezing temperatures plummeting to record lows.

The northeast of the country and parts of Canada have been in the grip of crippling heavy snow and deadly sub-zero temperatures since the turn of the year and the deep freeze is now ripping through the US Midwest and threatening usually warmer areas further south.

The wind chill from the rare "polar vortex" could make it feel as cold as -55 Fahrenheit (-48 deg Celsius) in places, weather forecasters say, prompting authorities in several towns and cities to issue warnings telling people to stay indoors and even stock up on food. In such cold conditions, exposed skin would suffer frostbite in as little as five minutes, experts have cautioned.

In New York, which declared a state of emergency when storm Hercules swept in on Thursday, John F. Kennedy Airport ceased operations for more than two hours because of freezing rain and snow after a Delta Airlines jet from Toronto slid into a snowbank.

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