Polar vortex: 'Life-threatening' wind chills arrive in Midwest starting Tuesday

Pablo Tucker
January 29, 2019

Wind chills in northern IL could fall to negative 55 degrees, which the National Weather Service called "possibly life threatening".

A winter storm pushing across the Upper Midwest is expected to dump more than a foot of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Windchill values could fall as low as minus 41 degrees in some areas this week.

While Winnipeg, southern Manitoba - well, really the entire province - has been dealing with significant cold weather lately, the daily mean temperature as of January 28 is still slightly above normal.

In Indiana, a Wind Chill Watch goes into effect Tuesday night and lasts through Thursday. The high on Thusday in Chicago is not expected to top -14 degrees.

The so-called polar vortex weather system was expected to send frigid winds that circulate around the North Pole across much of the United States from the Dakotas through New England, National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Hurley said.

"Snow and extreme cold are not only inconvenient, but also very risky". "An entire generation has gone by without experiencing this type of cold".

Temperatures will drop over the course of the day Wednesday as the next round of bitterly cold air sets in.

This record is in jeopardy of falling on Wednesday.

Another formidable bout of snowfall is heading to the Chicago area Sunday night, possibly dumping 4 to 7 inches of snow before temperatures are expected to plummet to risky levels the region hasn't seen in years.

Temperatures will begin to plummet from the Ohio Valley to the interior Northeast on Tuesday and Tuesday night, then to coastal areas on Wednesday.

The rest of the country isn't safe, either. Snow ends this evening but we'll continue to see a lot of blowing snow tonight.

But forecasters warn the most unsafe weather is yet to come: frigidly low temperatures that the region hasn't seen in a quarter century.

For younger Chicagoans, the burst of Arctic air set to overtake the city this week could be one of the coldest days of their lives.

Places as far south as Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, may see upwards of an inch of snow.

While accumulations are forecast to be on the order of 1 to 3 inches, the abrupt transition to snow will result in rapidly deteriorating driving conditions.

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