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Freezing iguanas fall from trees as America braces for lowest temperatures on record

  • August 2, 2020
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Battered by the bomb cyclone which brought heavy snow and flooding to a swathe of the US, America is facing the threat of the big chill. As workers started shovelling away the mountain of snow, temperatures started plunging.

They plummeted to as low as -20C (-4F) in many parts of New England. In Caribou, northern Maine, the wind chill was poised to bring the reading down to -40C (-40F).

According to the National Weather Service, the lowest temperature on Friday, -41C (-42F),  was recorded at Embarrass, Minnesota. On the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, forecasters expect the biting winds to make it feel as if it was -100F (-70C).

Some parts of the US are bracing themselves for the coldest temperatures on record over the next few days, with the lowest readings expected on Sunday morning.

Such is the cold that there are fears that they will render useless the grit used to make roads passable.

Experts warned that bitterly cold temperatures pose a serious health risk, with frostbite taking hold swiftly.

"Any kind of exposed skin can freeze in a couple of minutes." Wind chill describes the combined effect of wind and low temperatures on bare skin," Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with private forecasting service AccuWeather.

A bulldog walks through the snow during a snowstorm in New York, U.SCredit:
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The cold snap is already estimated to have claimed at least 19 lives. They included four people in North and South Carolina whose cars ran off the road.

In Philadelphia, a passenger was killed with a car failed to stop on a steep snow-covered hill and piled into a commuter train.

Elsewhere, in Virginia, a girl was killed when she was hit by a pick-up truck while sledging and a 75-year-old man was hit by a snow plough.

Other fatalities were reported in Wisconsin, Texas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and North Dakota.

Further north, Massachusetts took a battering with the National Guard called out to rescue people in coastal towns after flooding turned some roads into rivers.

In Boston, a tide of over 15 feet broke the record set during a blizzard in 1978.

Marty Walsh, the city’s mayor, pleaded with motorists to stay off the road because cars were getting stuck. "We want to clear the streets," he said.

Graphic: What is a ‘bomb cyclone’?

The storms also led to a wave of power outages across the country. 

At one point around 100,000 people on the east coast from Florida to Maine were left without electricity.

Power workers scrambled to restore service before the big chill took hold, which would have left people in homes without heating.

The blizzards brought chaos to the transport network with around 7,000 flights being cancelled on Thursday and Friday.

While airlines offered passengers the chance to rebook or refunds, some travellers were left marooned at airports far from home. Ferry services were shut down along the Canadian coast.

A thaw is expected to begin early next week, with temperatures edging above freezing and then turning mild.

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