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People in US are throwing boiling water in Polar Vortex air. See what happens

Videos and photos showing train tracks in Chicago set on fire are also circulating online.

it's viral Updated: Jan 31, 2019 21:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

By now you’ve probably read and heard about the freezing temperatures in the American Midwest. Fuelled by the polar vortex, the region is in a record breaking cold grip with temperatures colder than Antarctica in places. With life in affected areas coming to a standstill – flights grounded, train travel disrupted, mail services suspended, and schools and offices closed – people are coming up with unique ways to keep themselves entertained.

In a bid to show just cold it is people are posting videos showing them throwing boiling water in the cold air only to watch it turn into icy vapour within seconds. Several people have posted videos showing them braving the cold with mugs and cups (a water gun in at least one case) of hot water only to document the phenomenon.

“When you throw [boiling water] into the air, the hot water forms into hot droplets,” Taneil Uttal, an arctic climatologist, told National Geographic, adding that the cold temperatures freeze the water droplets quickly and result in them falling as ice crystals.

Not only this, videos and photos showing train tracks in Chicago set on fire are circulating online.

A Metra train moves southbound to downtown Chicago as the gas-fired switch heater on the rails keeps the ice and snow off the switches near Metra Western Avenue station in Chicago. ( AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato )

In an Instagram post, Chicago’s Metra rail system explained: “Pull-aparts are rail defects in which two rails separate at their connection. They occur in extreme cold when the metal shrinks and the rails literally pull apart from each other. How Metra forces make repairs is by warming the metal with fire until it expands and the two rails can be reconnected.”

A post shared by Metra (@metrarail) on

According to Metra, trains can run over the flames because the diesel fuel in the trains “combusts only with pressure and heat, not open flames” reports CNN.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently said that, “This is a historic cold, obviously”.

“They are life-threatening temperatures, and they should be treated accordingly,” he also said reports AFP.

First Published: Jan 31, 2019 18:40 IST