Terrifying 'Polar Vortex' Causing Record-Breaking Cold Across Much of the US

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.

Yikes.

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

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SNAPA SNAPA

And please, please, please bring the animals inside--or try to find a way to get them warm too.  And your plants if you can.  snowgirlBrrrr

nonmember avatar Kaylee Allen

Its not the first time schools been cancelled in Minnesota for cold in 17 years. Whatever source you used is incorrect I'm only 19 years old and didn't move to Rochester Minnesota until I was 6 and school was cancelled/closed multiple times for cold temperatures in the 9 years I lived there.

adamat34 adamat34

Glad they are closing schools. Kids like snowdays and it really is to damn cold

jcb1628 jcb1628

I live in Minneapolis, currently it is -22 degrees with -42 degree wind chill. It's early in winter for the temps to be that low and the wind chill is record breaking but we have amazing infrastructure to handle it and no self respecting Minnesotan would have a heat pump that wouldn't work at lower than 40 degrees. Schools were only canceled today because the wind chill makes it too cold for kids to stand at the bus stop waiting to get picked up.

jcb1628 jcb1628

I live in Minneapolis, currently it is -22 degrees with -42 degree wind chill. It's early in winter for the temps to be that low and the wind chill is record breaking but we have amazing infrastructure to handle it and no self respecting Minnesotan would have a heat pump that wouldn't work at lower than 40 degrees. Schools were only canceled today because the wind chill makes it too cold for kids to stand at the bus stop waiting to get picked up.

jcb1628 jcb1628

Technically this is the first time since 1996 that the governor closed all the schools STATEWIDE. Of course each district had closed schools because of extreme cold many times since then.

Mark Cox

well jcb..thats 18 years not 17..2014-1996 is 18..so the story is still wrong

Bruic... Bruickson

It's suppose to be 17 degrees all the way down here tomorrow morning on the gulf coast. We are not use to those types of temps here to say the least lol.



My daughter goes back to school in the morning and I'm a little worried about there being ice on the road since I have never driven on it. I've only seen snow maybe 4 times in my life and out of those times it's only stuck to the ground maybe twice. It's not suppose to snow but I've actually heard rumors that the schools may close just because of the cold. Like I said, we are just not use to those kind of temps! I couldn't imagine living somewhere where this is the norm.

Jacee... Jacee2348

Things are just fine here in Texas.  Highs of 50-60 all week (after today - it is 30 today - brrrrr). 

nonmember avatar alaskan momma

sounds just like home.... sleet and rain in cold cold weather is scary, drive safely everyone! i would say "plug your vehicles in and get studded tires" but idk what that is like where you all are from... be safe!!

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