The Polar Vortex Intrusion is now raging across the Midwest with temperatures expected to dip around the -40s across many states. The dramatic and extremely unusual weather has left many unprepared and weather offices across the Midwest are giving stark advice about the risk of going outside.

The extreme cold is life-threatening. Just five minutes of exposed skin can lead to frostbite. There’s also the danger of experiencing hypothermia. The official advice is to stay indoors and only go out if absolutely necessary.

If you do venture outdoors, make sure to cover any exposed skin and keep your clothes dry. If an exposed area of skin does begin to tingle, get inside and reheat it with warm (not hot) water. Also remember to bring animals and pets indoors. Other advice includes not taking too deep a breath to protect your lungs from severely cold air.

The forecast for several places in the Midwest has temperatures that will make it colder than the South Pole (it is after all summer there) and colder than certain areas of Mars. The cause for this is that a significant fraction of the polar vortex, the freezing air that moves around the North Pole, is being shifted South into the continental United States.

Antarctica
Temperature anomaly map for Wednesday, January 30, 2019. Climate Change Institute/University of Maine

Graphics of the temperature anomaly show how incredible the change is. The temperature anomaly is a measurement between the long-term average (the “reference value”) in a particular region and the temperature that is actually occurring. The maps constructed by the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine showed just how unusual these temperatures currently are, as well as the unusually warm North Atlantic.

The reason for the shift in the polar vortex location has to do with global warming. A study in Nature Climate Change from 2016 showed that a warmer Arctic would lead to a shift of the polar vortex equatorward, leading to more bursts of freezing temperatures in North America.

By now, only the uninformed and those who are lying claim that global warming leads to hotter temperature everywhere. The changes to the climate are breaking regular patterns, making weather events such as these more likely.

[H/T: Sky News]

Related posts