It's certainly been chilly in the UK of late, but if you thought having to don a hat and gloves to brave a dusting of snow was bad, spare a thought for those in the US and Canada right now.

North America is currently experiencing its harshest cold snap in 24 years, with reports of windows breaking due to the cold and sharks freezing to death in Cape Cod - and now it's reached a new level, as Niagara Falls has frozen over.

Niagara Falls is in fact the collective name for a series of three waterfalls between the state of New York and the Canadian province of Ontario. The combined falls have the highest flow rate of any of North America's waterfalls that have a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50m).

It's also a source of hydroelectric power - the largest producer of electricity in New York state, in fact, with a generating capacity of 2.4 gigawatts.

The cold weather has been caused by an arctic blast of air stretching from the Midwest to the Northeast, with freezing temperatures as far south as Charleston, South Carolina.

It looks set to affect plans for New Year's revelers across the two countries too: authorities have warned those hoping to catch the ball drop at midnight in Times Square, New York that this could be among the coldest on record.

Meanwhile transport has been severely affected too - cracked railway tracks have caused commuter chaos in Boston, while in the state of Michigan there have been reports of around 30 crashes on road surfaces that have become potentially lethal following six inches of snow.

In Omaha, on a night with a -28C wind chill, one woman in a wheelchair received a fire service escort after being forced into the road due to off snow-covered sidewalks. According to police, an 83-year-old woman also died from exposure to the cold in the aftermath of a car crash in South Dakota.

Hypothermia and frostbite are among the conditions that forecasters have warned people to be wary of, Officials have urged citizens to pay particular attention to the homeless and the elderly as they look to protect the vulnerable from the freezing conditions.

Featured Image Credit: PA

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