Though winter storms and intense cold aren’t anything new for the hardened residents of Fargo, Chicago, or other parts of the chilly Midwest, the weather that’s been sweeping across the country this week isn’t typical. Rather, it’s record book-worthy: icy temperatures have been recorded across the country, including some of the lowest in more than two decades. The temperatures are said to measure between 30 and 50 degrees colder than the average for this time of year.
After winter storm Hercules brought strong winds, a deep chill, and more than a foot of snow to parts of the country last week, this latest wintery forecast is being attributed to a so-called “˜polar vortex’ – a phenomenon that sounds more akin to science fiction than real life.
In Chicago, nicknamed “˜Chiberia’ by residents, raw temperatures have dipped as low as -27 degrees Celsius (-16 F), while Fargo has displayed temperatures in the -30s. The intense cold has even reached as far south as Atlanta, which measured in at just -14 degrees (6 F) on Monday. Yesterday, the cold temperatures extended into the northeast and even further south; more than half of the population has been put under a cold advisory.
Combined with the wind chill factor, the real air feel for many of these areas is far colder than the raw temperatures: as low as a staggering -51 degrees (-60 F). Don’t discount the importance of wearing layers in these conditions – exposed skin can show signs of frostbite in as little as five to ten minutes.
All those who are planning to travel this week are advised to keep one eye on the forecasts: snowfall, ice, and low temperatures have all combined to impact travel, close airports, and delay or cancel flights around the region. Thankfully, the cold snap is predicted to dissipate in the latter half of this week.
Written by Claire Bullen