By Zephyr Strosnider
A polar vortex struck the United States on Monday, January 6th through Tuesday, January 7th, breaking cold weather records in over fourteen cities, including Atlanta. On the 7th, Atlanta reached a freezing 6° F, breaking the previous record of 10° on January 7th, 1970. Meteorologists announced that with wind chill, it felt like nearly -10°.
The Georgia temperatures were colder than Anchorage, Alaska, which was reported as reaching 27° Fahrenheit. The coldest temperature recorded in Georgia was -6°at the highest point in the state, Brasstown Bald near 5:00 A.M. Tuesday morning.
Many were also surprised that Central Park in New York City reached its lowest temperature in 118 years. The temperature dropped to 4° Tuesday morning, breaking the previous record of 6°recorded in 1896. “I’ve been to New York in the winter, but I’ve never seen it THAT cold!” said freshman Anna Walston.
Because of the cold, many states were forced to shut down all public schools. Minnesota took this drastic measure for the first time in seventeen years. Minnesota also reported the lowest temperature in the country at -36°Fahrenheit near Crane Lake. Schools in Georgia were closed in many counties including Fulton, Cobb, Douglas, and Forsyth.
The polar vortex both directly and indirectly was the cause of twenty one deaths, including many people who simply collapsed from shoveling snow in their driveway and many homeless people who were unable to find shelter. There was also a one year old child who died when the car he was a passenger in hit a snow plow and an unrelated woman who died when her car slid on ice and hit a snow plow. There were also many reports of frostbite on both days.
The chilling storm had a large cost effect as well. It was reported as costing the United States about five billion dollars due to broken pipes. Major airlines were also forced to cancel about twenty thousand flights, costing them anywhere from fifty to one hundred million dollars. Even though it had a negative effect on airlines, they did see a 52% spike in people from places Minneapolis and Chicago searching for planes to warmer locations like Cancun, Mexico. Not all usually warm locations were keeping up their reputations, however. Savannah, Georgia reached a chilly 20°Fahrenheit during the vortex.