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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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American big freeze has former Cumbria man in its grip

AN ex-pat Furness man who has built a life for himself in America has told how his home city has been hit by savage weather gripping the US.

As the United Kingdom gets to grips with high winds and flooding, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Americans are preparing for record-breaking minus temperatures.

Icy, snow-covered roads and high winds have made travel treacherous from the Dakotas to Michigan and Missouri, with up to 48 states set to be affected.

A whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a polar vortex is suppressing temperatures in huge swathes of the continental US, with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama.

The forecast is extreme: -25F (-31C) in Fargo, North Dakota, -31F (-35C) in International Falls, Minnesota, and -15F (-26C) in Indianapolis and Chicago.

Former Askam man and Dowdales High School pupil Dale Carter has lived in America for nine years.

He has a house in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife, Theresa and their three children Christopher, Caroline and William.

He has spoken about deserted streets and flight chaos as the country grinds to a halt in many states.

Mr Carter, a 38-year-old IT consultant, said that while residents of Chicago expect cold weather at this time of year, the extremes were tough to deal with.

He added: “It’s currently -15F with a chill factor of -43F.

“It is like nothing I have felt before. It is just painful to be outside.

“Schools have been closed and people have been told to stay inside due to the extreme cold.”

Mr Carter, who travels a lot for his work, flew to California from O’Hare Airport in Chicago on Sunday and told how his flight was initially cancelled due to frozen pipes, and how dozens of others fell victim to the weather.

He added: “I have never seen O’Hare so quiet in all the years I have travelled through it.

“The airport was like a ghost town. Around 80 per cent of flights had been cancelled.

“Before I left I had to find an indoor car park for my car so it would not freeze while I was away.”

The polar vortex is expected to affect the USA over the next two days.

A winter storm has already blanketed areas of Canada and the north-eastern US with up to 2ft (60cm) of snow.

It has been blamed for 16 deaths in recent days and the cancellation of 3,700 flights.

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