Residents in the Midwest are bracing for a ‘flash freeze’ set to send temperatures plummeting as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit (-37 Celsius).
The severe cold snap will be caused by a polar vortex pushing arctic winds down into the US, where all 50 states – even Hawaii – are expected to experience below freezing temperatures next Monday.
More than 212 million Americans will affected by the bitterly cold conditions, CNN reports.
However, the icy weather will be at its most extreme in the Midwest, where preparations are already in place to close schools and roads for fear of fatalities.
In some areas, temperatures will be up to 30 degrees below average. Meteorologists predict it could get so cold that car antifreeze could solidify.
Residents in the Midwest are bracing for a ‘flash freeze’ set to send temperatures plummeting as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit (-37 Celsius)
The severe cold snap will be caused by a polar vortex pushing arctic winds down into the US. This map shows temperatures expected across the country on Sunday as the winds from the Vortex start to move in
Residents in many parts of the Midwest have already experienced heavy snow in recent days. As of Friday, much of the region is under a winter storm watch. There are fears the ‘flash freeze’ could create treacherous driving conditions, with water and slush quickly turning to slippery ice
The National Weather Service has warned that the flash freeze will ‘quickly turn any wet or slushy roads to ice,’ and create dangerous driving conditions.
Areas of Minnesota and Iowa will likely get so cold that it could be unsafe for children to leave home and attend school.
‘As temperatures fall some 25 to 30 degrees below seasonal averages, arts of the Upper Midwest will near the thresholds necessary to cancel, or in the case of 2021, virtualize classes,’ CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri stated.
Officials in St. Paul, Minnesota, say they will cancel classes on Monday if the forecast still shows that the temperature will be below -25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, there are also concerns that rivers flowing through the Midwest could freeze over, creating water traffic problems.
‘Areas to the south of Minnesota – the lower portions of the upper Mississippi and the Illinois River – are seeing relatively decent flows and levels are good for navigation, especially around St. Louis, but extreme cold outbreaks give us a concern for ice bites, which takes flow out of the river,’ Justin Palmer, a hydrologist with the North Central River Forecast Center in Minnesota, told CNN.
‘Ice gets created in the pools, we drop a lot of flow, which drops stages and becomes an issue for potential groundings.’
This map shows forecast lows headed into next week when the polar vortex is expected to blow down into the US. Below freezing temperatures will be felt in Nashville and Charleston
The polar vortex will bring the coldest temperatures of the year to the Midwest, with subzero temperatures forecast in many areas
Even after the polar vortex, temperatures across most of the country will remain below average for all of next week
Residents in the Midwest – from Nebraska up through Michigan – are already under winter storm watch with heavy snow expected as of Friday. Residents in Illinois are seen clearing a dumping of snow last week
One local in Round Lake Heights, Illinois is seen riding a snowmobile down a subruban street after a Winter Storm Olena dumped 30.5 inches of snow there earlier this week
Residents in the Midwest – from Nebraska up through Michigan – are already under winter storm watch with heavy snow expected as of Friday.
Up to eight inches is expected to fall in Green Bay, Wisconsin, while areas around Lake Michigan could see up to a foot of snow.
The Polar Vortex will also affect the Northeast, which is still recovering from Winter Storm Orlena.
The storm dumped a whopping 35 inches of snow in Mt. Arlington, New Jersey – the most seen there since 1899.
Meanwhile, more than 17 inches of snow fell in the Big Apple, forcing the temporary closure of schools, businesses and COVID-19 vaccination centers in the early part of the week.
The Polar Vortex Explained
The stratospheric polar vortex is located in the layer that is 5-30 miles above Earth’s surface and only appears in winter.
Sudden Stratospheric Warmings (SSWs) are occasions in the winter (~6 times per decade), when the polar stratosphere warms and the winds that normally flow from west to east around the North Pole weaken dramatically and even reverse direction, corresponding to a breakdown of the polar vortex.
These SSWs can eventually cause the tropospheric jet stream to weaken, which allows cold air bottled up near the polar cap to escape and expand into the middle latitudes, such as the United States, Europe, and parts of Asia.
This cold air has now escaped and is set to hit the US on Monday.
Russell Michelle Hoyer are pictured Wednesday trying to find their driveway under the snow in Mt. Arlington, New Jersey where a whopping 35.5 inches of snow has fallen since Sunday
A resident of Wilmington, Massachusetts is pictured clearing out the street on Wednesday after Winter Storm Olena moved through