Massive Freeze Breaks New Records, Strands People On Trains

Posted at 12:16 PM, Jan 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-07 12:16:53-05

DCIM161GOPRO(CNN) — The polar vortex swirling its way across the United States is breaking new records, leaving travelers stranded on trains and in airports, and forcing the Coast Guard to cut through ice.

Even polar bears and penguins have had to take shelter indoors.

New York City saw a record low for the date Tuesday. It was just four degrees in Central Park, breaking a record of six set in 1896.

That’s not quite as bad as the all-time low of 15 below zero in 1934. But with the wind chill, temperatures still felt well below zero Tuesday — a 69-degree drop from Monday, when the weather was a relatively sultry 50 degrees with wind chill.

Temperatures plummeted below freezing somewhere in all 50 states Tuesday morning — most, but not all, due to the arctic blast hovering like an ice chest, according to CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen. (The cold regions of California and Hawaii, for example, had nothing to do with the vortex.)

In Florida, despite the low temperatures, crops were not damaged Tuesday morning, the state’s Fruit and Vegetable Association told CNN.

Hard freeze warnings were in effect from eastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle.

Authorities have blamed at least 15 deaths on the cold so far, including 11 from traffic accidents and two involving hypothermia.

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