Polar Vortex Sends Extremely Frigid Temps To U.S.


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With the biggest part of the country buried in snow from the latest winter storm, sadly, the worst is yet to come, with cold winter blasts that will break records and bring dangerously low temps.

Meteorologists are calling it the "Polar Vortex" and it is due to hit the nation on Sunday, bringing cold air that has "piled up" at the North Pole, bringing below zero temps to a big part of the country.

The temperature predictions are startling: 25 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 31 in International Falls, Minn., and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago. At those temperatures, exposed skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia can quickly set in because wind chills could hit 50, 60 or even 70 below zero.

Precautions are already in effect in Minnesota and Wisconsin - schools have been called off for Monday. Their projected highs will be seeing minus teens and colds up to 30 degrees below zero.

Ken Simosko, a meteorologist from Bismarck, said it would take all of five minutes to get frostbite in minus 50-degree condition.

"We usually don't call something 'life threatening,'" he told Fox News.com. "But yes, we want people to know that this is very much a life-threatening event."

This cold blast is thanks to a perfect combination of the jet stream, cold surface temperatures and the polar vortex — a counterclockwise-rotating pool of cold, dense air, said Ryan Maue, of Tallahassee, Fla., a meteorologist for Weather Bell.

“All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak,” he said. “If you’re under 40 (years old), you’ve not seen this stuff before.”

Surprisingly, before this polar blast even hits, record lows have already been set in Green Bay, Wisconsin where they saw -18 degrees. The National Weather Service said that topped the 17-below-zero mark last recorded in 1979.

In the coldest parts of the nation, warming centers and homeless shelters are open and available to those most vulnerable - the homeless. Many cities are taking special precautions to ensure there are no lives lost due to the frigid temps. New York outreach teams are searching city streets for homeless people at risk of freezing to death.

People should also be aware that domestic and farm animals can't survive in this kind of cold. Bring them in, make sure they have warm shelter and bedding and by all means, call local authorities if you see an animal outdoors during this cold blast.

Image via Wikimedia Commons