All across the Midwest this week, temperatures will plummet. Dangerously cold wind chills will see some thermometers dropping to their lowest in two decades. Called a polar vortex, it is a low pressure area of swirling cold air that hovers over the poles. During some extreme winters, the polar vortex expands and sends cold air to the south. The polar vortex helps the jet stream travel around the globe, dividing the cold air from the warm air.
According to The Weather Channel: “The National Weather Service noted the temperature in Minneapolis/St. Paul dropped below zero just after midnight Tuesday morning and was likely to remain below zero until Friday morning. By Wednesday and Thursday, morning lows may reach the minus 20s to perhaps minus 30 in the Twin Cities, with minus teens and minus 20s in Des Moines, Iowa, Chicago and Milwaukee. Subzero-cold lows may extend through much of the Ohio Valley and should arrive into the interior Northeast by Thursday. Thursday will be the coldest day along the Northeast Interstate 95 corridor, with lows in the single digits from Baltimore to Boston.”
Polar Vortex Records
The weather this week is expected to break records across the Midwest. For example, Chicago last saw minus-20 degrees on January 18, 1994. While Madison, Wisconsin, has only recorded a minus-30 degrees twice in its history. The last time was January 15, 1963. Both cities could have those records broken this week. This morning, according to AccuWeather, Grand Forks, North Dakota, recorded a “RealFeel” temperature of minus-75.
You should you stay inside during an extreme winter event such as this. Frostbite and hypothermia can happen quickly in minus-zero weather. Not only that, but there will be dangerous roads to navigate and possible closure of public facilities. At home, watch for snow accumulation on weakened roofs as well as frozen and bursting pipes.
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by Kevin Estela / Jan 29, 2019