Historic Cold Temperatures Across the Midwestern United States (Credit: National Weather Service, NWS Central Region, NWS Chicago)
Discussion: As the nation heads into the end of January, many parts of the Midwestern United States are set to see the coldest temperatures of the winter so far. According to the National Weather Service, an arctic high-pressure system is set to move south from Canada, bringing life threatening, dangerously cold air with it. Many regional National Weather Service offices across the Midwest have issued windchill warnings, as windchill temperatures in some areas may experience the feeling of as much as -40 or -50 below zero. A windchill warning is issued when there are dangerously cold windchill temperatures occurring or expected to occur. The combination of this frigid air and strong winds can cause frostbite to occur on any exposed skin in a matter of minutes. Windchill temperatures are determined by the rate of heat loss due to exposed skin from the wind and the cold.
For many cities, forecasted temperatures will meet or break the record lows recorded decades ago. These could be all-time record-breaking temperatures. In Chicago, Illinois, the last time the city experienced temperatures this cold was back in 1994. These cold temperatures will break or have already broken many daily record coldest high and low temperatures. Most of the region is expected to experience daytime temperatures below zero, combined with windchills of 40 and 50 below. With these hazardous temperatures and windchills, it is important to stay safe both inside and outside. Dressing in layers and covering all exposed skin while out can help prevent frostbite and hypothermia. Car batteries can’t withstand these cold temperatures and can die leaving people stranded so it’s crucial to have a winter weather emergency kit in vehicles. With this cold weather, outdoor activities are not the only issues to watch out for; many indoor problems can arise. Extremely cold temperatures can cause pipes inside of houses to freeze and burst. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is another danger, as people misuse secondary heating sources to stay warm. In addition to keeping friends and family safe and warm, it is important to check on your elderly neighbors as this weather can be much more life threatening for them. Lastly, bring your pets inside, and when letting them outside stay with them and bring them in quickly.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Shannon Scully