The Polar Vortex weather system plunged temperatures across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions to record lows this week, to below even Antarctican levels. On Wednesday Chicago hit a record low of -23 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly -31 degrees Celsius), with wind chills into the -50 degree range. Some 11 deaths were attributed to the extreme cold, while less serious consequences ranged from deep annoyance to immobilized cars, frozen pipes and kids home from school (see "deep annoyance").

But amid the misery there was beauty to be found, as lakes and rivers turned into frozen fantasylands. Case in point: Niagara Falls, the legendary waterfalls straddling the border between New York State and Ontario, Canada, froze over to dramatic effect.

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