Arctic blast: Cleveland colder than Siberia, Harlan issues APB for Queen Elsa

Frigid arctic winds brought record cold to the eastern United States Friday, freezing a New York geyser in midair, trapping a ferry loaded with people in Boston Harbor, and rendering the East Coast 'the coldest place in the world.'

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
A woman walks during low temperature at Lower Manhattan in New York, Friday. Millions of people awoke to painfully cold weather in the eastern United States on Friday, with temperatures frigid enough in New York City and Washington to break decades-old record lows for Feb. 20.

This week the weather in the eastern half of the United States has been called weird, bizarre, and record breaking. Arctic air surged through the region Friday, bringing record low temperatures up and down the East Coast, forcing an entire state to close schools, and prompting police in one rural town in Kentucky to issue a faux arrest warrant for Queen Elsa of Disney's "Frozen."

"Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song 'Let it Go!' " the Harlan City Police Department posted on Facebook. "As you can see by the weather she is very dangerous." 

New York, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, and Miami all experienced record low temperatures for Feb. 20. And Cleveland broke its all-time record low for the month of February at minus 17 degrees F. on Friday morning. The nation's capital is currently colder than most of Alaska and the eastern US is the "coldest place in the world compared to average," according to The Washington Post

In Boston, commuters fought through wind chills 18 degrees below zero to wait in line for buses and trains that have been severely crippled by the more than seven feet of snow that has buried the city in the past five weeks. A ferry carrying more than 100 passengers from the coastal town of Hingham to Boston became stuck in the icy waters of Boston Harbor Friday morning and had to be towed to the city, The Boston Globe reported.

In Kentucky, the cities of Paducah and Jackson were at their coldest since records began in 1895, at minus 8 and zero degrees respectively, the Post reported. Meanwhile, Flint, Mich., tied its all-time record low when the temperature dropped to minus 25 degrees on Friday morning. The last time it was so cold in Flint was in January 1976.

In response to the cold, schools have closed across the entire state of Delaware. Chicago public schools also cancelled their classes on Thursday. Currently the entire homepage of the Boston Public Schools website is devoted to the weather and how it will affect school schedules. (Massachusetts schools were already closed for the week due to regularly-scheduled February vacation.)

Spectacularly, the arctic weather has even transformed a New York state park water fountain into a 50-foot high and growing “Ice Volcano.”

"At the very top of it [the fountain], the water is still shooting out so that’s what’s been freezing in the eight-below degrees we're at," The "TODAY" show's Dylan Dreyer said Friday, while standing next to structure.

Meanwhile, temperatures in New York have been so cold that even parts of Niagara Falls have frozen over. 

The dangerously cold outbreak is reportedly due to an appendage of the polar vortex that is surging south.

"An eddy of the polar vortex is leading to the coldest weather of this recent cold spell, creating a deep layer of bitterly cold air, along with gusty winds," according to meteorologist David Hamrick of the National Weather Service.

Now, some meteorologists are calling the cold front “the Siberian Express.”

"The frigid air in the US comes courtesy of the Siberian Express. It's cold Arctic air from northern Russia," The Weather Channel's Mike Bettes said to NBC News. "It's traveling 5,000 miles over the North Pole, over cold snow pack, and going all the way as far south as the Gulf Coast."

But in these times of record breaking, bitter cold, it may help to keep the situation in perspective. While the East Coast may be colder than most of Alaska, on Friday, Boston was still enjoying temperatures around 10 degrees warmer than Novosibirsk, Russia. Of course, that means that Cleveland is colder than Siberia. Sorry, Cleveland.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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