Return Of The Polar Vortex? More Than 1,300 Flights Cancelled As 8 Inches Of Snow Expected In Chicago

Teresa CrawfordAP Images

The dreaded polar vortex that had badly affected the northern United States nearly two years ago might return. According to a recent USA Today report, much of northern United States is likely to come under the influence of an advancing cold wave by the end of this weekend. The report adds that over the course of the next week, people living in the region would see temperatures dipping with the cold wave likely to reach as far south as Atlanta.

Even before the effects of the polar vortex has begun, there have been several winter storm watches and weather advisories issued across South Dakota into southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, Lower Michigan, northern Illinois and northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio, the report added. According to senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski from AccuWeather, the exact track and intensity of the storm will determine where the heaviest band of snow occurs.

Meanwhile, Chicago is reporting cancellations of more than 1,000 flights from the O’Hare International Airport — one of the busiest in the country. Initial reports put the number of cancellations at more than 1,100 flights as of Sunday morning. A subsequent report by NBC News added that the number of cancellations stood at 1,345 flights for all the airports that serve the city. This latest figure of 1,345 canceled flights was reported by flight-tracking website FlightAware which counted all the cancellations from the O’Hare and Midway airports. Later in the day, officials from midway airport announced that all Southwest flights out of the airport would remain cancelled into Sunday morning. As for the few flights operating out of O’Hare, they were reporting delays of more than 15 minutes.

Polar vortex in Chicago
A cyclist braves below zero temperatures and wind while riding his bike on a snow covered street, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. A whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a "polar vortex" descended into much of the U.S. and plunged temperatures to record lows. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)Featured image credit: Seth PerlmanAP Photo

Meanwhile, the National Weather service reports that Chicago has since Saturday afternoon seen more than 2.7-inches of snow. The forecast however, is that the cold wave would continue to intensify through the weekend and that parts of Chicago would see more than 8-inches of snow by Sunday night. Apart from metropolitan Chicago, the northern areas of Illinois that include the counties of Cook, Will, Kane, Kendall, DuPage, Lake, and McHenry are all likely to experience heavy snowfall. Also in the affected list includes parts of Lake and Porter counties in northwest Indiana. The forecast also warns that several areas could see as much as 12-inches of snow.

The Mayor of Chicago has appealed to residents to take appropriate precautions in the days to come. People have also been advised to call 3-1-1 in case they need help. Six warming centers have also been set up across the city. A statement issued by the Mayor’s office reads as follows.

“We want residents to know city departments are prepared to assist those needing well-being checks, snow removal and other cold-weather services. We ask Chicagoans to do their part and shovel sidewalks and help out by checking in on family, friends and neighbors during extremely cold or snowy weather.”

The onslaught of this super cold wave has reminded many people about the infamous polar vortex that slammed the U.S. back in January, 2014. Back then, much of north-central and the upper eastern United States experienced unusually cold weather for an extended period. The polar vortex that year was later estimated to be among the worst weather event to affect the U.S.economy since Hurricane Sandy. More than 200 million people were affected, and the economic impact was estimated to be around $5 billion. The airline industry was amongst the hardest hit, with more than 20,000 flights canceled during the time.

polar vortex in Chicago
Steam rises from the tops of buildings in the Chicago skyline Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, as a whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a "polar vortex" descended on the city. Much of the U.S. has been hit with a dangerous cold that could break decades-old records with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama. Featured image credit: Teresa CrawfordAP Images

If you happen to be in the aforementioned regions likely to be affected by the approaching storm, we recommend taking adequate measures to keep yourselves and your family safe.

[Featured Image by Teresa Crawford/AP Photo]