AT least 20 people have died in the United States after the Siberian Express, a weather system of freezing arctic air, sent temperatures plummeting to record lows.
Nine people died in Tennessee, one of the worst-hit areas.
In Canada, a three-year-old boy was discovered curled up in the snow after wandering into the cold night wearing only a nappy, T-shirt and boots.
Elijah Marsh was found close to his grandmother’s home in temperatures of -19°C but later died in hospital.
The bitter weather, which also caused Niagara Falls to ice over, is caused by cold air arriving from Siberia after travelling over the North Pole.
Senior meteorologist at weather.com Nick Wiltgen said: “This week ranks among the most intense arctic outbreaks so far in the 21st century for the eastern US, and it is certainly one of the most impressively cold air masses we’ve seen this late in the winter season, coming only a month before the spring equinox.”
Record lows were set across the country on Thursday, with temperatures in some parts of the Midwest reaching -40°C.
In many areas, strong winds made temperatures feel even lower, adding to the misery.
Many states took precautions, closing schools and warning homeless people to get to shelters.
At least four people died because of the cold weather in Kentucky, officials said, and at least two people froze to death outside in Pennsylvania.
In New York, parts of the East River iced over while Chicago is suffering its coldest February since 1875.
– The Telegraph