United States polar vortex 2019: USA faces historic low temperatures

Mindy Sparks
January 31, 2019

Other cities in the Midwest will be even colder.

Mail deliveries were suspended, schools and business closed, and residents encouraged to stay home in almost a dozen states where temperatures overnight sank into the negative double digits, the worst cold to grip the region in a generation with all-time records still under threat.

United States media attributed at least five deaths since the weekend to the freezing conditions and a major snowstorm that preceded the blast of Arctic air gripping the region.

"Wind chill values of 30 to 60 degrees below zero will be common across the northern Plains, Great Lakes, and upper Midwest". Even colder temperatures were expected on Thursday.

"We're bringing the warming shelters to them, so they can stay near all of their stuff and still warm up", said Cristina Villarreal, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Family and Support Services.

Amtrak said it had canceled all trains in and out of the city, where Hurley forecast -15F on Wednesday and a record-low -27F on Thursday.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but the phenomenon is produced by a sudden blast of warm air in the Arctic, and North Americans need to get used to it - the polar vortex has been wandering more often in recent years.

"This arctic air dumps out of Canada and will affect us for days", said Richard Bann, a forecaster with the NWS's Weather Prediction Center in College Park Maryland.

"Where the polar vortex goes, so goes the cold air", Mr Cohen said.

The cold front was forecast to hit the Midwest especially hard, with wind chill expected to plummet to minus 50F (minus 46C) in Chicago by Tuesday evening and two feet (60cm) of snow predicted for Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service.

Those types of wind chills can create frostbite in five minutes or less to exposed skin.

If temperatures reach -27 degrees Fahrenheit (-33 Celsius), it would be the coldest recorded temperature since January 1985.

MI and Wisconsin declared statewide emergencies in advance of the frigid temperatures.

The bitter cold is the result of a split in the polar vortex that allowed temperatures to plunge much further south than normal.

In North Dakota, cattle ranchers Joey Myers and Scott Bailey told Reuters they planned on staying up with their animals as long as the cold snap remained to prevent fatalities.

Ricky Castro, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Romeoville, Illinois, said: "This could possibly be history-making".

Cold weather could cause pregnant cows to deliver ahead of schedule, the farmers said, and newborn calves cannot survive such frigid conditions. Five city buses were also deployed to serve as mobile warming centres for homeless people, while city police handed out hats, jackets and blankets. Conditions are particularly favorable for state records to fall this week, with clear skies and fresh snow on the ground.

"I´m here until they let me leave", Robinson said. Multiple airlines, including United and Southwest, have canceled flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport.

Remnants of a weekend snowstorm continued to plague portions of the northeast - with strong winds and blowing snow threatening whiteout conditions and reducing visibility.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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