It's Back: Polar Vortex Brings -50 Temperatures Next Week

Minnie Murray
January 30, 2019

During the winter in the northern hemisphere, the Arctic polar vortex expands, sending its cold air south. Extremely risky cold is expected from Tuesday night through Thursday for the Midwest and Great Lakes. Residents of Chicago should brace for temperatures of as low as -43 degrees Celsius come next week if forecasts are correct.

"While forecast specifics will be further refined, the frigid cold with wind will provide very low wind chills".

According to the Weather Channel, the cold Arctic air will leave Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Des Moines, Iowa and the Ohio Valley facing subzero temperatures as low as -29 degrees Celsius, nearing or dipping below seasonal temperatures in much of the Arctic itself, including Greenland, northern Canada and Alaska. That will occur in the wake of the winter storm that may lay a swath of disruptive snow from the Midwest, Chicago included, to a part of the Northeast early next week.

"However, below-normal conditions can still be anticipated in the Upper Midwest and Northeast", he said.

Heavy snow has led to the closure of Michigan's state government, including the Capitol building and legislative offices, as a snowstorm moves across the region ahead of frigidly cold weather. He said city agencies are making sure homeless people are in shelters or offered space in warming buses.

Even the fabled "frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field, home to the NFL's Green Bay Packers, wasn't able to withstand the heavy snow and blustery winds that closed hundreds of businesses, schools and government offices in Wisconsin.


Over the next week there will be two cold waves impacting the eastern half of the country.

In eastern North Dakota, officials have issued travel alerts because of blowing snow.

The heaviest amounts of snow will fall in southern Wisconsin, upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and northern ME, according to models. The high temperature forecast at O'Hare on Wednesday is negative 14 degrees (negative 25 degrees Celsius), which would break a record set on January 18, 1994.

Tuesday night into Wednesday morning will see a rain and snow mix followed by drastically cold temperatures.

Courthouses and most offices were closed in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Columbia and Washington counties, while more than three dozen flights were canceled early Monday at the Milwaukee area's largest airport, Mitchell International Airport. The stadium said tours, the Packers Hall of Fame and other related businesses were closed Monday.

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