From coast to coast, the US is in a deep freeze.
A shot of bitter, arctic air has brought record low temperatures and sub-zero wind chill. The arctic front will continue at least through the end of the week, shattering cold records across North America in what meteorologists are calling an “arctic outbreak.”
Though 2017 was the second hottest year on record (and the hottest without an El Niño), the year ended with record lows and sub-zero wind chill. Meteorologists in Embarrass, Minnesota recorded a mind-blowing -45°F without the wind chill. Even in south Texas it feels like -10°F in some places. At least five deaths are being blamed on the cold.
It’s so cold, sharks are washing up on beaches
In Massachusetts, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy found three thresher sharks washed up in Cape Cod, “stranded due to cold shock,” which can cause cardiac arrest in animals.
The conservancy collected tissue samples from the sharks that will be examined “once they thaw.”
“We hauled the shark off the beach and it is currently thawing at NOAA Fisheries Service to be dissected later,” the group wrote on about the latest shark discovery. “A true sharkcicle!”
It’s so cold, Niagara Falls has frozen over
Niagra Falls normally has 681,750 gallons of water pouring over its edge each second. With temperatures around -11°, the flow has been on its way to a total freeze.
Officials say that Falls could be completely frozen by the end of the month if temperatures stay where they are.
It’s so cold, road salt is useless
Road salts work because dissolved salt gives water a lower freezing point. If you add salt to ice, it starts a cycle of that first dissolves any liquid on top, lowering its freezing point below that of the ice. The ice in contact with salty water then melts, which dissolves more salt.
Water mixed with salt has a freezing point of about 0°F, so road salt is only somewhat effective at temperatures below 20—and won’t melt ice at all if the temperature is below zero.
It’s so cold, Canada is colder than Mars
On Dec. 27, the temperature on Mars reached about -20°F. In Saskatoon, Canada the temperature was -45°F. Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary are experiencing colder temperatures (with wind chill) than daytime Mars, though at night, the temperature on the red planet plunges to below -100°F.
It’s so cold in Canada that electric poles are snapping in Nova Scotia, windows are breaking spontaneously, most ice skating has been canceled, and even Toronto’s famous polar bear plunge was postponed for the first time in 13 years.
It’s so cold, Chicago set a New Year’s record
Chicago experienced its coldest recorded daytime high on New Year’s Day.