If you thought you were cold last week in the Midwest, think again. A "polar vortex" is about to descend on much of the country and will bring with it frigid, record-breaking temperatures. Think massive drops below zero, icicles on the eyelashes, and car doors stuck shut. Some schools have even closed for the first time, not for snow, but for cold.
A "polar vortex" is essentially a whirlpool of frigid, dense air, almost like a tornado of cold. And though they usually stay away from populated areas, this time it won't because the winds that usually keep it contained are absent and so the cold will be moving far afield. To us. Brrr. It could feel as cold as -60 degrees F in some places.
But it's winter, right? Who cares? Well, this is potentially "life-threatening" according to the National Weather service. Here are five reasons to be scared:
1.) School bus trouble: Not only will cars and school buses have trouble starting in such frigid weather, this is the type of weather that can cause frostbite within FIVE MINUTES of exposure (OMG, I am freezing even thinking about it). So all those kids waiting at bus stops? Are in danger. Drive your kids to school or wait with them in a warm car at the bus stop. You won't be sorry. Not to mention the air brakes. They can't function when it's too cold. Now canceling for the cold makes sense, doesn't it?
2.) Frost bite: As stated before, this is the type of weather that can cause frostbite in five minutes. We are talking 60 below here. This is not your average winter storm. Minnesota canceled school for cold for the first time in 17 years. MINNESOTA, people! This is serious.
3.) Space heaters: If you use one, TURN IT OFF when you are not in the room. Seventy-nine percent of home heating fires are caused by space heaters. Makes you sort of accept being cold, right?
4.) Heat pumps don't work: Heat pumps are really only good for heating when it's 40 degrees or higher. They simply can't keep up. Sub-zero temperatures combined with freezing rain and sleet can cause heat pumps to freeze up and stop functioning. Check on your elderly neighbors and be aware of your heat sources.
5.) Frozen pipes: We have already had one frozen pipe in our kitchen half bath. We got off easy (so far), but for others, frozen water expands, bursting pipes and causing nightmares and headaches for home owners who are left contending with no heat AND a mess once things start to thaw.
Cold, cold, go AWAY!
How will you be dealing with this cold snap?
Image via SmabsSputzer/Flickr