Polar vortex: All 50 US states are below freezing – and even Hell's frozen over

Central Park breaks 118-year-old record when the temperature dropped to -15C

Temperature records were shattered across the United States on Tuesday as the polar vortex continued to take hold, with all 50 states experiencing freezing temperatures at some point in the day.

That included Hawaii, where it was -7C atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and across the Midwest and East, which felt temperatures colder than much of Antarctica. Over 190 million people were affected by the polar vortex by the end of the day.

New York City's Central Park broke a 118-year-old record when the temperature dropped to -15C, according to Fox News.

Hell, Michigan, quite literally froze over when temperatures dropped to -26C, although this was overshadowed by weather in Embarrass, Minnesota, where residents experienced the lowest temperature of all: -37C.

The freezing temperatures caused escaped inmate Robert Vick to hand himself back in after absconding from the minimum security Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, Kentucky.

And in Chicago, even the polar bear at the Lincoln Park zoo retreated inside as the weather dropped to a record low of -26C.

With the bitter cold slowing baggage handling and aircraft refueling, airlines were forced to cancel more than 2,700 flights in the US, bringing the four-day total to more than 11,000. Over 500 passengers were stranded overnight on three Chicago-bound trains that were stopped by blowing and drifting snow in Illinois.

A video of a meteorologist Eric Holthaus went viral when he demonstrated how quickly boiling water turned to snow in temperatures of -21 in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

Across the South, records were shattered in Birmingham, Alabama, when temperatures dipped to a low of -14C, breaking the record of -11.7C set in 1970. Atlanta also saw a record low of -14.5C, 25 degrees lower than is average for this time of year.

Authorities have reported at least 21 deaths related to the cold conditions since the big freeze first began to set in on Sunday. Forecasters however have predicted temperatures will rise above freezing within the next 24 to 48 hours.