Mail carriers abide by the unofficial motto that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” will prevent them from completing their daily mail delivery, but apparently the saying doesn’t include ridiculously low windchills. Parts of the region could be colder than the Arctic Circle on Tuesday through Thursday.
Thanks to Polar Vortex Jayden, the Midwest is being blanketed by windchills that range from 40 to 65 below zero. That means the United States Postal Service will not be delivering mail in Iowa, Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and western Illinois on Wednesday.
Temperatures will not rise above zero until sometime Thursday afternoon. According to the National Weather Service, arctic air coupled with brisk winds has led to dangerously cold wind chill values that can cause bodily harm in a matter of minutes.
Some states have declared a state of emergency while public schools and major universities have shut everything down and canceled classes, including Division 1 University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. Thousands of flights have been delayed and canceled, and sheriff’s offices have strongly advised people not to drive if it can be avoided at all.
Churches are working together with shelters and other entities to open their doors and provide warmth to those without heat. Experts say that the unwelcome polar vortex is a stream of upper atmosphere air that circles around the North Pole during the winter.
A Wind Chill Warning means the combination of very cold air and the wind will create DANGEROUSLY low wind chill values… and they're expected over the next two to three days across the warned area. pic.twitter.com/nb5TXwLlxd
— NWS (@NWS) January 29, 2019
When the polar vortex rears its ugly head and flexes its muscles, temperatures in the eastern U.S. are doable. But when it’s weak, bone-chilling cold temperatures blanket regions like what the Midwest is enduring right now.
In Iowa, the National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning for an “extended and rarely seen” outbreak of extreme cold and dangerous wind chills for Tuesday through Thursday.
“Those venturing outside for any extended period will be in a potentially life-threatening situation and should take appropriate precautions,” the National Weather Service stated.
Record-low temperatures are expected in Minnesota’s Twin Cities Wednesday and Thursday. Minnesotans can expect 30 below zero temperatures for Wednesday and 27 below zero for Thursday – actual temperatures not wind chills. The northernmost part of the Midwest is anticipating windchills of 65 below zero.
The National Weather Service explained that a similar polar vortex brought frigid temperatures to the region in 2014, 1989, 1985, 1982 and 1977. According to CBS News, half a dozen deaths so far can be attributed to Polar Vortex Jayden.