SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- It has been
decades since parts of the Midwest experienced a deep freeze like the one
expected to arrive Sunday, with potential record-low temperatures heightening
fears of frostbite and hypothermia even in a region where residents are
accustomed to bundling up.
This "polar vortex," as one
meteorologist calls it, is caused by a counterclockwise-rotating pool of cold,
dense air. The frigid air, piled up at the North Pole, will be pushed down to
the U.S., funneling it as far south as the Gulf Coast.
cold blast will sweep through parts of New England, where residents will have
just dug out from a snowstorm and the frigid temperatures that followed.
Lonnie Quinn, chief meteorologist at
CBS New York station WCBS-TV, reported on "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that temperatures along the Eastern
Seaboard would warm up Sunday, only to be followed on Tuesday by temperatures colder
than what the region experienced in the wake of Thursday's storm.
least 16 deaths were blamed on the storm as it swept across the nation's
eastern half, including three people who officials said died at least partly
because of the extreme cold.
heaviest snow fell north of Boston in Boxford, which received nearly 2 feet.
Nearly 18 inches fell in Boston and in western New York near Rochester.
Lakewood, N.J., got 10 inches, and New York's Central Park 6. Philadelphia got
more than 6 inches.
reached 8 below zero in Burlington, Vt., with a wind chill of 29 below, and 2
degrees in Boston. Wind chills there and in Providence, R.I., made it feel like
minus-20 Friday morning, and the forecast called for more of the same into
of the central Midwest could see up to a foot of snow just as the cold sweeps
in pulling temperatures to 10 below zero in the St. Louis area.
Ryan Maue, of Tallahassee, Fla., a
meteorologist for Weather Bell, said
temperature records will likely be broken during the short yet forceful deep
freeze that will begin in many places on Sunday and extend into early next
week. That's thanks to a perfect combination of the jet stream, cold surface
temperatures and the polar vortex.
"All the ingredients are there
for a near-record or historic cold outbreak," he said. "If you're
under 40 (years old), you've not seen this stuff before."
The temperature predictions are
startling: 25 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 31 in International Falls,
Minn., and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago. At those temperatures, exposed
skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia can quickly set in because
wind chills could hit 50, 60 or even 70 below zero.
Sunday's playoff game in
Green Bay could be among one of the coldest NFL games ever played. Temperatures
at Lambeau Field are expected to be a frigid minus 2 degrees when the Packers
and San Francisco 49ers kickoff, and by the fourth quarter it'll be a
bone-chilling minus 7, with wind chills approaching minus 30, according to the National Weather Service. Officials are warning fans to
take extra safety measures to stay warm including dressing in layers and
sipping warm drinks.
Minnesota called off school for Monday
statewide, the first such closing in 17 years, because of projected highs in
the minus teens and lows as cold as 30 below. Milwaukee and Madison, Wis.,
students also won't be in class Monday. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple urged
superintendents to keep children's safety in making the decision after the
state forecast called for "life threatening wind chills" through
And though this cold spell will last
just a few days as warmer air comes behind, it likely will freeze over the
Great Lakes and other bodies of water, meaning frigid temperatures will likely
last the rest of winter, Maue said.
"It raises the chances for future
cold," he said, adding it could include next month's Super Bowl in New
Snow already on the ground and fresh
powder expected in some places ahead of the cold air will reduce the sun's
heating effect, so nighttime lows will plummet thanks to strong northwest winds
that will deliver the Arctic blast, Maue said. And there's no warming effect
from the Gulf to counteract the cold air, he said.
Even places accustomed to normally
mild to warmer winters will see a
plunge in temperatures early next week, including Atlanta where the high is
expected to hover in the mid-20s on Tuesday.
"This one happens to be really
big and it's going to dive deep into the continental U.S. and all that cold air
is going to come with it," said Sally Johnson, meteorologist in charge at
the National Weather Service in Sioux
It's relatively uncommon to have such
frigid air blanket so much of the U.S., maybe once a decade or every couple of
decades, Maue said. But in the long-run the deep temperature dives are less
meaningful for comparison to other storms than daytime highs that are
below-zero and long cold spells, he said.
And so far, this winter is proving to be a cold one.
"Right now for the winter we will have had two significant shots
of major Arctic air and we're only through the first week of January. And we
had a pretty cold December," Maue said.