Hell Has Finally Frozen Over -- In Michigan

Yes - it's true! Hell has finally frozen over. That's Hell, Michigan - not the other place!

As the winter storm called "Hercules" moved across the country, the small town of Hell in Michigan saw temperatures plunge to -13C (9F), with a wind chill of -33C(-27).

The 200 or so residents of Hell were cut off by frozen snow, which was several feet deep. The town effectively shut down, and neighbors tried to help each other to keep warm.

Derek Wallbank from Bloomberg news tweeted: "Fun fact: it's currently -13 in Hell, MI, with a wind chill of -33. It has literally frozen over."

So, how did the town of Hell come by the name? There are two different versions of the derivation.

The first is that sometime in the 1830s, two German travelers arrived at the fledgling town and remarked "So schön hell!" The correct translation is "so beautifully bright!" The locals misunderstood, but the name stuck.

The more likely alternative is that soon after Michigan gained statehood, George Reeves, who had been a pioneer of the town, was asked about a name for it and replied, "I don't care, you can name it Hell for all I care."

There is another Hell on Earth - in Norway. In an unusual quirk of fate, it is now warmer than its namesake, with a recorded temperature of 5C (41F)

The storm has caused havoc across most of the US, and temperatures in the Midwest and East were colder than much of Antarctica on Tuesday.

Several cities are now at a standstill with residents being urged to stay inside their homes for their own safety. Michigan, Chicago, and Detroit have been badly hit by the cold polar vortex.

All 50 states saw freezing temperatures at some point yesterday, even including Hawaii, where it was -8C (18F) on top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano.

There have been 21 deaths so far directly attributed to the cold

Around 1,200 flights were canceled from Chicago's two airports alone, and over 500 passengers were stranded overnight on three Chicago-bound trains that were blocked by heavy snowdrifts. Food ran low, but the heat stayed on.

Many schools remained closed in Washington D.C. and Atlanta.

In New York City, Central Park recorded a temperature of -15C (5F) on Tuesday - the coldest January 7 since 1896.

The good news is that warmer weather is forecast for much of the worst affected parts of the country very soon.

And Hell will lose the distinction of being frozen.