This week, parts of the U.S. and Canada have been gripped by a bitter cold snap. Snow has been falling all the way to from the Great Lakes region to New England with approximately 250 million Americans thought to have experienced freezing weather over the course of the week. Nowhere has been hit as badly as the Midwest, however, which has had to contend with temperatures lower than parts of Antarctica. The extreme weather has caused eight deaths and practically shut down several major cities. The cold spell is called the polar vortex
and it has resulted in temperatures sinking to -31°F in Bismarck, North Dakota and -30°F in Winnipeg, Canada
The mercury also sank in Chicago, falling as low as -21°F on Tuesday. The National Weather Service warned that unprotected skin could result in frostbite occurring within just ten minutes. The following infographic shows just how cold it got. Temperatures in the Windy City on Tuesday were far lower than the 9°F low recorded at the McMurdo research station in Antarctica. It does have to be pointed out that it's summer in Antarctica so the continent's weather isn't at its unmerciful worst. Still, Bismarck and Winnepeg have had to cope with temperatures of -30°F and below over the past couple of days. That's colder than the South Pole where -29°F was documented on Sunday. As cold as things have gotten for some Americans and Canadians in recent days, they should spare a thought for the people of Yakutsk in Siberia. The lowest temperature there on Tuesday was -49°F.