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Chicago and other areas throughout the Midwest were hit hard by January’s polar vortex. The extreme weather event is responsible for 20 deaths and devastated businesses due to business interruption losses, frozenn pipes and other damages. (Photo: Jake Hukee/Shutterstock)

The so-called “polar vortex” of frigid air that swept the United States in late January 2019 was blamed for more than 20 cold-related deaths and shattered low-temperature records across the country. One hospital in Chicago treated more than 50 people for frostbite during the polar vortex.

The bitter cold also wreaked economic havoc on businesses throughout the world, including a costly halt to the aviation and hospitality industries, and devastated businesses in the Midwest and Northeast U.S. regions through major losses resulting from freezing water and fuel pipes. Preliminary estimates indicate that the polar vortex will cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.

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