US Reels From Cold, Australia From Heat

James Kirk
Author James Kirk
Collection #StoriaNews

As the United States reels from a record cold, with temperatures plummeting below minus 32 degrees Celsius (minus 27 Fahrenheit), Australia is sweltering through a heatwave.

Over the past few weeks, temperatures have continued to rise with all of the country's eight states and territories affected. Across the country, roads have melted, infrastructure has failed and both animals and fish have died en masse, reports CNN.

The southern city of Adelaide experienced its hottest day on record on January 24, reaching 46.6 C (116 F). On Friday, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology announced it had been the country's hottest January on record, describing the weather as "unprecedented."

In temperatures above 40 C (104 F) the human body begins to experience heat exhaustion. Once the temperature exceeds 41 C (105 F), the body starts to shut down. Health warnings have been issued throughout Australia advising people to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, minimize physical activity, and stay hydrated.

In the United States, however, the bitter cold in Chicago has kept hospitals busy, with doctors at one facility during the brunt of an Arctic freeze treating 50 frostbite victims, including some people who may lose an arm or a leg.

"It's a horrific situation," says Dr. Stathis Poulakidas, the head of burn and wound care services at Cook County Health.

Poulakidas works at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, a level 1 trauma center, that in a really bad year will see 150 cases of frostbite for the season. He said based on what he has seen thus far, this could be one of those years.

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