Winter Storm Hercules brought heavy snow and fierce winds to the Midwest and Northeast and has been blamed for at least nine deaths so far. Here, drivers in Cleveland battle high winds and heavy snowfall as they navigate on The Detroit Shoreway on Cleveland's West Side.NEWS: Snowstorm Slams U.S. Northeast
This satellite image taken on January 3, 2014 by the Suomi NPP satellite shows the blanket of snow that stretches from the Midwest across to New England.
The Washington Post/Getty Images
A pedestrian walks along Carroll Creek in Frederick, Md.PHOTOS: Blizzard Nemo Slams Into U.S. East Coast
Firefighters in Brooklyn, N.Y. dig out of their firehouse after Hercules deposited up to 8 inches of snow in the area.NEWS: 'Snowquester' Storm Seen from Space
Headlights of a car illuminate the street on Cleveland, Ohio's W. 112th St. after power was lost.Naming Nemo: How the Storm Got Its Name
A snow plow removes snow on a street near a statue put on a bench in New York.
Being in the doghouse isn't always bad, especially for this Brooklyn, N.Y. dog scooting into an actual doghouse, during the fun of newly fallen snow.PHOTOS: Winter Wonderland
A husky in Somerville, Ma., with snow-fearlessness in its genes, waits for its owner outside of a store.
A Brighton, Ma. resident takes his son and puppy to a dog park for some fun before the storm worsens.
A branch and its berries in St. Michael's, Md. bear up under the weight of Hercules.
A young man snowboards in Chicago's Humboldt Park. An unexpected look for a beach, but that's winter for you.
A Cleveland, Ohio resident clears snow in the Edgewater neighborhood of the city.
Twitter users, too, have been photographing the new year's winter weather. From Twitter user @GutterIsATool: @Discovery_News Here's a good #snowstorm pic from the NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, MI.
From Twitter user @RiverROC1: #NORDHOUSE DUNES WILDERNESS, MANISTEE NATION FOREST, MICHIGANpic.twitter.com/zYca7K34Qx
From Twitter user @JPMajor: @Discovery_News 27" drifts in my back yard here in RI!pic.twitter.com/Oey5BKzaIj
Frigid wind swept through North America in the wake of Winter Storm Hercules, according to the National Weather Service. In much of the United States, temperatures dropped below freezing, while high winds made the cold stab deeper. This weekend, the northern Great Plains may suffer wind chills of -55 degrees.
Men may face a higher risk from this cold wave than women. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that from 1999 to 2011, men accounted for 67 percent of hypothermia-related deaths in the United States. Hypothermia-related deaths included cases in which excessive natural cold were underlying and contributing causes of a person’s death.
Nearly 17,000 hypothermia-related deaths occurred between 1999 and 2011, the most recent year for which CDC National Death Index data was available. That averaged to about 1,300 deaths per year.
With 1,536 deaths, the worst year was 2010, the year of the massive “snowmageddon” blizzard that paralyzed much of North America and a hard winter that accounted for more than 300 deaths in Europe.
One grim contributor to the higher ratio of male to female hypothermia deaths may be that homeless individuals are predominantly male in the United States. Single people made up 76 percent of the homeless surveyed in 25 American cities by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Men made up 67.5 percent of that population.
The homeless, and other vulnerable groups such as the elderly and impoverished, face grave threats in the ongoing cold winter. However, hypothermia can strike anyone when their core body temperature drops below approximately 95 degrees F (35 C).
According to the CDC, hypothermia symptoms include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness.