Skip to main content

The bitter cold that has gripped eastern Canada and the United States is showing no sign of letting up before the weekend.

Much of Ontario and parts of Quebec were put under extreme-cold warnings Friday morning. Waterloo Region's school board closed schools for the day because of the cold. Environment Canada predicted the blast of Arctic air could drive wind-chill temperatures as low as -45 in Northern Ontario and -29 in Toronto, a day after a three-year-old boy, Elijah Marsh, was found outside wearing nothing but a diaper and T-shirt and was later pronounced dead in hospital.

The U.S. National Weather Service says the cold snap could plunge parts of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic into deep freezes that haven’t been felt since the mid-1990s.

(How cold is it? Follow the forecast for your area)

Niagara Falls frozen

(Aaron Lynnett/The Canadian Press)

The cold weather had one stunning benefit for Ontarians, who were treated to ice-covered vistas at Niagara Falls this week. The Niagara River keeps flowing below the ice cover, so the falls aren’t completely frozen over. But the massive ice buildup near the brink has become a tourist magnet for the second straight year after several relatively mild winters.

(Gallery: A picturesque icy Niagara Falls)

The Great Frozen Lakes

Large swaths of the Great Lakes are frozen solid amid the cold snap. On Thursday, 80.9 per cent of the lakes' surface was covered in ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Lake Erie is almost completely frozen over, with 98 per cent of the largely shallow lake covered on Wednesday, but Lake Ontario is also heavily frozen.

The Great Lakes haven't quite matched last year's maximum ice coverage of 92.5 per cent, but it is the second year in a row that coverage has exceeded 80 per cent after several winters when less than half of the lakes' surface was icebound.

Watch: New York's 'ice volcano'

Brightcove player

Arctic conditions have turned a geyser at a state park in western New York into a five-storey-tall “ice volcano.”

The geyser is in a pond near the Glen Iris Inn at Letchworth State Park. Days of subzero temperatures have formed a solid cone of ice several feet thick with water still spouting out of the top. Park officials tell local news media that the formation is at least 15 metres high.

Winter is normally a quiet season for the park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” for its scenic gorges, but dozens of people are showing up daily to see the “volcano.”

'Frozen' weather not welcome

The cold might not bother Disney’s Queen Elsa, but it’s wreaking enough havoc in Kentucky that police announced a joke warrant for the Frozen character’s arrest.

Police in the rural town of Harlan posted on Facebook: “Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song ‘Let it Go!’ As you can see by the weather she is very dangerous.”

But they soon posted another message, advising residents to take the weather seriously, all kidding aside.

Watch: Red pandas unfazed by cold

Cincinnati was under a winter-storm warning on Friday and facing record low temperatures, but these two red pandas at the Cincinnati zoo didn't seem to care.

Brightcove player