If you're 25 or younger and live within a large swath of the Midwest — from Minneapolis to Chicago — this week will feature the coldest temperatures of your life as a lobe of the polar vortex plunges south out of the Arctic.
Why it matters:The frigid outbreak, which has already begun in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, will be life-threatening and disruptive for tens of millions of people this week. Wind chills on Wednesday morning in parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota are likely to approach the minus 50s°F to minus 60s°F. Such conditions can cause frostbite in just minutes and will likely force the cancellation of schools across the region.
Details:Weather forecasters across the Midwest have begun using words and phrases like "historic" and "all-time coldest" in association with the Arctic outbreak heading for the region. From Tuesday to Thursday, temperatures about 5,000 feet above the surface, which forecasters look to as an indicator of potential surface temperatures, may reach the coldest values ever observed in the lower 48 states.
In Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Des Moines, Green Bay, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Chicago, the cold will peak between Tuesday and Thursday, but it will remain extremely cold throughout the week.
In a harbinger of things to come, International Falls, Minn., known as the nation's "icebox," saw its temperatureplummet to minus 46°Fon Sunday, the fifth-lowest temperature it has ever recorded.
A fresh snowpack, courtesy of a storm moving through the region earlier in the week, will enhance the potential for record cold readings, as snow-covered ground is more efficient at reflecting solar radiation back into the atmosphere during the day and keeping it colder at night.
By the numbers:The National Weather Serviceis warningthat wind chills will plunge to the lowest readings since the mid-1990s across the Upper Midwest.
The NWS is forecasting a low temperature in Chicago of minus 20°F on Wednesday morning. This would set a daily record low and be one of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the city. The last time it was this cold in Chicago was Jan. 18–20, 1994, the Weather Service said.
A low of minus 20°F would be within 7°F of the city's all-time coldest temperature, which was set in January 1985.
If Chicago’s high temperature remains below minus 11°F on Wednesday, it would be the city's coldest afternoon high temperature on record. In fact, the city could see temperatures remain below 0°F for 60 hours or so, a rarity even for such a cold location.
About200 million peoplein the U.S. will see temperatures dip below freezing during the coming week, based on model projections.
The bottom line:The NWS forecast office in Des Moines put it starkly: "This may be the coldest air in a generation."
Southern Wisconsin on Saturday will get a potentially record-setting wintry blast more common in the middle of winter than late April, according to forecasters.
A winter storm warning took effect at 7 a.m. and runs until 10 p.m. Saturday, with 3 to 8 inches of snow and winds gusting to 35 miles per hour predicted.
The National Weather Service said snow will overspread the region from west to east, with snowfall rates of an inch per hour or more possible in the late morning and early afternoon, and the heaviest snow in the southern portion of southern Wisconsin.
“Significant travel impacts are likely, as several inches of wet, heavy slush accumulates on area roadways,” the Weather Service said.
Yesterday we had an ice storm and sleet along with a quick drop in temperature.
In the late evening we heard a thump on our roof and our first thought was that an ice coated branch landed on the roof. A little later there was another thump and aother. With everything ice coated we couldn't go outside
This morning I went outside and I couldn't see anything on the roof or ground. When I came inide Mary said that on the weather report they said we had ice thunder last night. Well I was surprised and happy to find out there was no damage.
Now ice thunder you say:
Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thundersnowstorm, is an unusual kind of thunderstorm with snow or sleet falling as the primary precipitationinstead of rain. It typically falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of an extratropical cyclone. Thermodynamically, it is not different from any other type of thunderstorm, but the top of the cumulonimbus cloud is usually quite low. In addition to snow, graupel or hail may fall.
After about two weeks of bitter cold and snow storms here is a Winter view of one of my favorite places to visit in the Summer! Cana Island, Door County, Wisconsin February 2, 2019 - Photo by Jason Schroeder