North America's deep freeze eases
- 9 January 2014
- From the section US & Canada
The deep freeze that has left people in North America shivering for days, shattering century-old temperature records, is loosening its icy grip.
The mercury is rising in the US Midwest and East, which has borne the brunt of the so-called polar vortex, but was still below freezing in many areas.
At least 21 people have died since Sunday as a result of the weather, and more than 11,000 flights were grounded.
US natural gas usage hit an all-time record in the US to meet heat demands.
Forecasters predicted weather would return to normal across much of the US in the coming days, after 50 US cities set new record low temperatures on Tuesday.
The US Midwest - which experienced -37C (-35F) in recent days - also warmed slightly, but still faced temperatures 15 to 25 degrees below average.
Atlanta, Georgia, returned to a more temperate 5C (42F) on Wednesday following a record low of -14C (6F) a day earlier.
New York City is expected to top -1C (31F) on Thursday, after shattering a 118-year-old low temperature record with -15C (4F) on Tuesday.
Temperatures in parts of North America plunged so low this week that they eclipsed readings recently recorded on the Red Planet by the Mars Rover.
Even Alabama's top official was not immune to the extreme cold.
Governor Robert Bentley faced an estimated $50,000 (£30,397) in damage after a water pipe froze and burst in the attic of his home in Tuscaloosa.
In Canada, meanwhile, a 70-year-old Ontario man is recovering in hospital after being buried in a snowdrift in his vehicle for nearly 24 hours, reports CBC.
Scientists also posited a silver lining to the cold snap, saying it could kill some of the pests that have ravaged northern forests.
The low temperatures may also slow the migration of invasive species and prevent erosion of wetlands, they say.