As the Polar Vortex rages on, some parts of the USA are experiencing record-breaking low temperatures. In fact, over the past few days, some states have been colder than Antarctica. It's safe to say things are getting pretty chilly.
One city which is experiencing particular lows is Chicago, where the temperature has dropped as low as -17 degrees Celsius. This week, the windy city experienced its coldest day in 150 years, for those looking for some perspective on the situation. Clearly, temperatures like these are no joke, and we don't envy those having to deal with them.
However, there has been a plus side to these incredibly harsh conditions. The rare combination of weather-factors have led to a stunning (and highly uncommon) wonder in the natural world. Lake Michigan, the second largest of the great lakes, has completely frozen over. People are sharing images of this phenomenon online - and they're a sight to behold.
This is Lake Michigan.
via: ShutterstockIt's located, as you may have guessed, between Michigan and Illinois, in the part of the USA known as the Midwest.
It's the second largest of the Great Lakes.
via: ShutterstockLake Michigan is also the only Great Lake located entirely in the USA - the others are shared between the US and Canada.
Calling it a lake does it somewhat of a disservice.
via: ShutterstockLake Michigan looks more like the seaside, thanks to its enormous size. To put it into perspective, the surface area of Lake Michigan is only slightly smaller than the entire state of West Virginia.
That's one big lake.
via: ShutterstockWhen standing beside Lake Michigan, you've no hope of seeing across to the other side. For numbers fans, that's a surface area of 22,404 square miles.
Lake Michigan is so big that it has several ports around its edge.
via: ShutterstockAnd one of the most famous is the city of Chicago. The Chicago city waterfront is one of the city's most popular attractions.
Tourists can enjoy boat tours along the waterfront.
via: ShutterstockChicago also boasts 24 miles of parks, beaches, harbours and marinas next to Lake Michigan. The magnitude of the Lake cannot be overstated.
In the past few days, winter has really picked up.
via: ShutterstockThis is a result of what's called a Polar Vortex. It's a complicated meteorological process, but all we really need to know is, things are cold.
The polar vortex has affected many areas of the US.
via: ShutterstockNew York City is feeling the chill, with temperatures dropping to the minus twenties (in degrees Celsius).
It's so cold, parts of Niagara Falls have frozen over.
via: ShutterstockPeople have shared pics on social media of the Niagara Falls area looking like a snow-scape from Disney's Frozen.
The cold has been having all sorts of negative effects.People are particularly concerned about the homeless during these periods, as it can be highly dangerous to be exposed in such temperatures for an extended period of time.
Scenes like these have been going viral.
Watch: Freezing temperatures in Iowa makes a woman's hair stand on ends as a polar vortex grips the Midwest.… https://t.co/m5adjAy7jv— Newsweek (@Newsweek)1548971700.0
The polar vortex has made international news.
Frozen pants stand alone in Saint Anthony Village, Minnesota, during the polar vortex. More scenes from the deep fr… https://t.co/mxNE6NpJ23— Reuters Pictures (@Reuters Pictures)1548980597.0
Or beautiful shots like this.This image of what looks like a spiral of ice was created by throwing boiling water into the minus-temperature air. It freezes instantly and creates a magical-looking effect.
People have also been sharing jokes on the topic.
Hey I bought a reversible blanket scarf today so don’t believe it when they tell you I can’t handle a polar vortex— Karen Kilgariff (@Karen Kilgariff)1548980382.0
The Midwest is one of the areas most affected by the adverse weather conditions.
This timelapse video shows the morning sun rising in Chicago as steam billows over an icy Lake Michigan… https://t.co/oTMOx2tCx9— CNN (@CNN)1549001760.0
The state of Michigan is facing similar temperatures.
It's -26 in Hell, Michigan, for those of you who had stuff you weren't gonna do until Hell froze over.— Elizabeth Bear (@Elizabeth Bear)1548942581.0
This has had shocking effects on the state's lake.
Lake Michigan: Temperatures hit a three-decade low! https://t.co/HPkPBd1DAA— RT (@RT)1548986400.0
People have been sharing breathtaking images on social media.
Lake Michigan Has Frozen Over, and It's an Incredible Sight — https://t.co/lTWAE8Fza8 https://t.co/tF23KGn6FF— Mental Floss (@Mental Floss)1548958982.0
Nature truly is miraculous sometimes.
via: Getty ImagesIt's also oddly humbling for us to admit that we're essentially powerless at the hands of the weather.
Images such as this really hammer that point home.
via: Getty ImagesWhen you see the majesty and power of the ice in contrast with the entirely human-built city-scape, it can really take your breath away.
Social media has been an excellent source of polar vortex content.
How cold is it in the Midwest? Bubbles are freezing. Remember to take your pets inside. #PolarVortex2019 https://t.co/ZfkbZdy2Si— Daniel Schneider (@Daniel Schneider)1548869633.0
Images like these help us non-residents imagine how cold it really is.
How cold is it in Chicago at the moment....? https://t.co/U3wJnHZwFY— Charles Croucher (@Charles Croucher)1548895004.0
It seems we're not the only ones struggling to imagine these conditions.
THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE A COLOR TO DESCRIBE HOW COLD IT’S GOING TO BE https://t.co/p1aMriPMh5— Patrick Fenelon 🌹 (@Patrick Fenelon 🌹)1548718739.0
This also helps us get a perspective on the temperature.
BRB - Moving to Antarctica ✌️ #PolarVortex https://t.co/4ua2pPYs1b— 101.3 KDWB (@101.3 KDWB)1548849973.0
Twitter users also shared more majestic images.
It is -20 in Chicago, this is Lake Michigan https://t.co/IGX4namZEV— Whoa City (@Whoa City)1548879443.0
Some Twitter users pointed out a shocking similarity.The current images being shared of Lake Michigan look disturbingly familiar to shots from the disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow.
There are tons of breathtaking images of the frozen lake.
via: Getty ImagesThis one, of a man walking across ice that looks a couple of feet thick, is particularly stunning.
Another really hammers home how dangerous these conditions can be.
via: Getty ImagesThis picture of a man whose eyebrows and eyelashes have become frozen solid is pretty frightening. There have been frostbite warnings across many parts of the Midwest.
Beautiful those these pictures are, the reality can be quite different.
via: Getty ImagesTens of millions of lives have been disrupted by the polar vortex, as schools and businesses shut down and flights remain grounded.