Polar Vortex Could Freeze $5B Out of Economy
Business + Economy

Polar Vortex Could Freeze $5B Out of Economy

Reuters/Carlo Allegri

The deep freeze that half the country has been coping with is costing the U.S. economy a pretty penny – about $5 billion.

That’s the word from the business weather intelligence company Planalytics.

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Millions of people have been unable to get to work, go shopping, go to business meetings or land at vacation destinations – and they may be forking over more money than usual to heat their private homes and businesses.

“We think the problem will be short-lived, but we estimate it will cost about $5 billion because of the sheer size of the population affected – about 200 million people in the eastern two thirds of the country,” Evan Gold, senior vice president at Planalytics, told NBC News.

The cold’s impact, he also said, would show up in lost productivity, in lower consumer spending, and in higher heating bills, he told NBC. Back in 2010, a similar cold storm occurred but it was of a short duration – about a week. “We calculated that [weather event] cost $25 billion to $30 billion. But that one lingered. This one is just very cold, so it should be a two- or three-day event.”

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As of this morning, the polar vortex, essentially a frigid cyclone, has been blamed for at least 21 deaths across the country since Sunday, including seven in Illinois and six in Indiana. All 50 states actually experienced freezing temperatures at some point on Tuesday.

Central Park in New York City broke a 118-year record Tuesday morning: Temps plummeted to just 4 degrees, smashing the previous 6-degree record from 1896, according to MyFoxNY.com.

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