Colder Wind Chills Here Than the South Pole?

Hey, it only hurts when I breathe. Is the hype warranted? Polar Purgatory. Yukon Death Star. Population thinning cold front. If your heated car seats malfunction, and you go on a hike today, the weather could be very problematic. Air temperature of -25F with a chill factor of -45 to -55F? Frostbite sets in under 5 minutes on unprotected skin.

“But what does it feel like” curious relatives out east want to know? Like sipping on cool, unsweetened battery acid. First it tickles, then it burns. Word to the wise: limit outdoor time today, when the worst of the cold wave oozes overhead.

Thursday AM may be just as cold, but winds ease up, with a slightly-less- terrifying wind chill. A Pacific breeze returns with a 60-70 degree temperature jump by Saturday, when highs approach 40F in the metro area. Talk about weather-whiplash.

Rain, ice and wet snow arrives Sunday into Monday, then colder next week, but not ‘CNN Headline News’ cold.

Mark Seeley says our wind chills are colder here than at Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, in Antarctica.

Today is peak risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Check in on friends and neighbors to make sure their homes or apartments are staying warm enough. Assume nothing. Newborns and the elderly are most susceptible to hypothermia, a gradual drop in body temperature that can prove fatal if not caught in time.

1). Symptoms, according to The Mayo Clinic, include:


Slurred speech or mumbling.

Slow, shallow breathing.

Weak pulse.

Clumsiness or lack of coordination.

Drowsiness or very low energy.

Confusion or memory loss.

Loss of consciousness.

2). Bring your pets inside, if possible. They feel the wind chill every bit as much as we do.

3). The air will be so cold that the National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa, has warned that, if people go outside, they should “avoid taking deep breaths, and minimize talking.”

4). If anyone asks (doubtful) wind chill factors have been lower in the Twin Cities than at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. That’s right, by all measures we are (temporarily) colder than the south pole. Check out the latest conditions at the South Pole here.

4). Local Warming Centers. The Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service has details:

Hennepin County, including Minneapolis:

Anoka County:

Dakota County Emergency Shelters:

North Mankato:  Warming Center at North Mankato Police Annex Community Room, 1001 Belgrade Avenue (open 24/7 through 5 PM Jan 31st)

Lowest Wind Chill Today. About -50F in the Twin Cities but -60F for much of greater Minnesota. Can you feel the difference? Probably not, but a stronger wind will trigger frostbite (faster). With these temperatures and chill factors frostbite on unprotected skin is LIKELY in less than 5 minutes.

Wake-up Temperatures Wednesday. If anyone asks “is it cold enough for ‘ya?” the polite answer is yes. A touch of Siberia, with better restaurants and nightlife.

Wednesday “Highs”. No, it’s not right to call this a high temperature. Maybe maximum temperature? If everything goes right MSP will reach -15F by late afternoon, which would be the 3rd coldest high temperature in the Twin Cities since 1989.

A Reason To Keep Going. Check out the predicted highs for Saturday as the weather pendulum swings in the other direction; a shot at 40 degrees in the Twin Cities, nearly 70 degrees warmer than it is out there right now.

European Model Output for MSP. Upper 30s this weekend will feel like a (bad) vacation from the polar vortex, and I predict you won’t even mind highs in the teens later next week. Not after this.

2 Weeks Out: More of a Pacific Influence. El Nino where are you? A weak El Nino, and still not fully coupled (atmosphere and oceans in synch) but another milder than average phase may be setting up for much of the USA by mid-February, with the possible exception of New England.

Want to Warm Up? Head to Antarctica. A post from climate historian Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk made me do a triple-take: “…Even in a broader historical context these severe conditions are quite rare having occurred about once every 10 to 12 years over the past 120 years of record keeping. Perhaps the one place on Earth where cold weather is taken most seriously as a health risk is Antarctica.  At the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station this week wind chill values will be in the minus 20s and minus 30s F.  We will have colder conditions here in Minnesota…”

File image: NASA Scientific.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, January 29th, 2019:

  • This morning, snow is falling across parts of the Northeast southward into the Southeast. While snowfall totals of up to an inch will be possible across the Southeast, heavier totals will be found in New England where in some areas (outside of lake effect bands) snow amounts of at least a half a foot will be possible. In areas downwind of the Great Lakes, up to at least two feet of snow will be possible.
  • Dangerously cold air is starting to filter into the Northern Plains and upper Midwest this morning, with wind chill values colder than -50F in parts of northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. Cold air is expected across the region through the middle of the week, with the coldest day for many areas expected to be Wednesday. That is when areas from Minnesota to Chicago may not make it out of the teens below zero for highs. Wind chill values will be even colder, with some areas of the upper Midwest expected to see wind chills as cold as -60F Wednesday morning.

Tracking The Snow. While the snow chance will still exist with any precipitation behind the cold front in the Southeast today, the main concern for snow will be in the Great Lakes to the Northeast. In the Northeast, snow will fall with an area of low pressure in the area. Meanwhile, heavy lake effect snow will occur off the Great Lakes over the next few days.

Winter Storm Alerts. Numerous Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect in the eastern United States due to the potential of snow. In parts of the Southeast, they are in effect today for the potential of mainly up to an inch of snow. Meanwhile, Winter Storm Warnings are still in effect across parts of Michigan for heavy lake effect snow, with Winter Weather Advisories across Wisconsin for less than an inch of snow with blowing snow. In Minnesota and the Dakotas, Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for blowing snow. Some cities under winter alerts are:

  • Grand Rapids, MI: Winter Storm Warning through 1 PM Thursday for lake effect snow showers, with 3-6” possible today/tonight and additional snow Wednesday into Thursday. Blowing and drifting snow will also be a concern.
  • Buffalo, NY: Winter Storm Warning from 4 PM today to 7 AM Thursday for 10-18” of lake effect snow. Near blizzard conditions will be possible Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Syracuse, NY: Winter Weather Advisory through 1 AM Wednesday for 3-6” of snow.
  • Montpelier, VT: Winter Storm Warning from 11 AM Tuesday to 7 AM Wednesday for 6-10” of snow.
  • Portland, ME: Winter Weather Advisory from 7 AM tonight to 11 AM Wednesday for 3-6” of snow.
  • Caribou, ME: Winter Weather Advisory from 7 AM tonight to 5 PM Wednesday for 4-7” of snow.
  • Birmingham, AL: Winter Weather Advisory through Noon today for up to an inch of snow.
  • Atlanta, GA: Winter Weather Advisory through 7 PM tonight for up to an inch of snow.
  • Knoxville, TN: Winter Weather Advisory through Noon today for up to an inch of snow.
  • Roanoke, VA: Winter Weather Advisory through 7 PM tonight for 1-2” of snow.
  • Charleston, WV: Winter Weather Advisory through Noon today for up to an inch of snow.

Northeast Snow Potential. An additional 6-12” of snow is expected to fall across parts of interior New England through Wednesday from parts of northeastern Pennsylvania into Maine. The heaviest totals, however, will be found downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario over the next several days due to lake effect snow – including in the Buffalo area and the Tug Hill Plateau. In these areas, snowfall totals of at least 1-2 feet are possible.

Southeast Snow Potential. Up to an inch of snow is expected to fall today from southern Mississippi into northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee. The heaviest totals are expected to be across parts of the southern Appalachians, where snow totals of 3-5” will be possible above 3,500 feet.

Dangerously Cold Air Filtering Into The Northern U.S. Already this morning cold air is filtering into parts of the northern United States, with some reported wind chill values of at least -50F in northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.

Highs And Lows Through Thursday. Bitterly cold air will continue to filter south and east over the next couple of days, with temperatures dropping across parts of the upper Midwest today. Wednesday is still expected to be the coldest day of the outbreak in most areas of the upper Midwest, with highs not expected to get out of the teens below zero for locations like the Twin Cities and Chicago. In several locations, record lows and record cold highs are expected to be broken.

Wind Chill Values. Dangerous and life-threatening wind chill values will also occur with this stretch of bitterly cold weather. The worst morning in the upper Midwest will be Wednesday, as wind speeds along with the cold temperatures will make it feel as cold as -60F in spots. Wind chill values won’t improve too much during the day Wednesday, with another bitterly cold start expected Thursday. These wind chills would cause frostbite in less than 5-10 minutes.

Wind Chill Alerts. Due to the expansive cold wind chills expected, numerous wind chill alerts have been issued for the Tuesday through Thursday timeframe. Some cities under wind chill alerts include:

  • Bismarck, ND: Wind Chill Warning through Noon Thursday for wind chills as low as -45F.
  • Fargo & Grand Forks, ND: Wind Chill Warning through Noon Thursday for wind chills as low as -65F.
  • Pierre, SD: Wind Chill Warning through Noon Thursday for wind chills as low as -45F.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Wind Chill Advisory through 3 PM today, a Wind Chill Warning from 3 PM Tuesday to Noon Wednesday, and a Wind Chill Advisory from Noon Wednesday to 9 AM Thursday. Wind chills as low as -40F to -55F during the warning period, with wind chills as low as -25F to -35F during the advisory periods.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Wind Chill Advisory through Noon Tuesday with a Wind Chill Warning from Noon Tuesday to 9 AM Thursday. Wind chill values are expected to be as low as -35F today and as low as -55F during the warning period.
  • Des Moines, IA: Wind Chill Advisory through 6 PM Tuesday with a Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to 9 AM Thursday for wind chill values as low as -45F to -50F.
  • Omaha, NE: Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to Noon Wednesday with a Wind Chill Advisory from Noon Wednesday to 9 AM Thursday for wind chill values between -20F and -40F.
  • Kansas City, MO: Wind Chill Advisory from 6 PM Tuesday to Noon Wednesday for wind chills as low as -25F.
  • St. Louis, MO: Wind Chill Advisory from 6 PM Tuesday to 1 PM Wednesday for wind chills as low as -25F.
  • Milwaukee, WI: Wind Chill Advisory until 6 PM Tuesday with a Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to Noon Thursday for wind chills of -20F to -34F today and as low as -55F during the warning period.
  • Chicago, IL: Wind Chill Advisory until 6 PM Tuesday with a Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to Noon Thursday for wind chills as low as -20F to -30F today and as low as -50F to -55F during the warning period.
  • Indianapolis, IN: Wind Chill Warning from 10 PM Tuesday to 1 PM Thursday for wind chills as low as -40F.
  • Louisville, KY: Wind Chill Advisory Wednesday from 5 AM to 2 PM for wind chills as low as -15F.
  • Cincinnati, OH: Wind Chill Warning Wednesday from 4 AM to 7 PM with a Wind Chill Advisory from 7 AM Wednesday to 1 PM Thursday for wind chills as low as -30F.
  • Detroit, MI: Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to 11 AM Wednesday for wind chills as low as -40F.
  • Cleveland, OH: Wind Chill Warning from 1 AM Wednesday to 4 PM for wind chills as low as -30F.
  • Pittsburgh, PA: Wind Chill Advisory from 5 AM Wednesday to 5 PM Thursday for wind chills as low as -20F.
  • Buffalo, NY: Wind Chill Watch from Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon for wind chills as low as -25F.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

Bring Your Pets Indoors! Here’s some timely advice from the ASPCA:

  • “Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death…”

Historic Wind Chill Temperatures in Minnesota. The Minnesota DNR has a timely post. Yikes. Here’s an excerpt: “What is the coldest windchill ever seen in the Twin Cities or Minnesota? The answer can be a little tricky because on November 2001 the formula on how to calculate the windchill    was changed. Perhaps the coldest windchill the Twin Cities has ever seen was -67 degrees F with the new formula (-87 degrees F with the old formula) back on January 22nd 1936. The temperature was -34 degrees F with a wind speed of 20mph. All traffic in the Twin Cities was severely hampered and a number of fatalities were caused by the cold. Without a lengthy state-wide wind record, it is difficult to say when was the coldest statewide windchill. There are some candidate dates though besides January 22, 1936. On January 9th and 10th, 1982 temperatures of -30 degrees F and winds of around 40mph were reported in Northern Minnesota. This would translate to -71 degrees F by the new formula (-100 degrees F by the old formula)…”

File image: Steve Burns.

Solar is Thriving in Low-Income Minneapolis Neighborhoods. A story at Star Tribune caught my eye: “Minneapolis is starting to see an influx of solar installations in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, an early result of a new program to target investment in those areas without displacing existing residents and businesses. The city’s “green zones” program — years in the making and now finally taking shape — targets two areas of the city for special incentives intended to spur solar and energy efficiency projects, along with other priorities focused on healthy food and water…”

After 25 Years Studying Innovation, Here Is What I Have Learned. An author and professor at Harvard Business School offers perspective and insight. Here’s an excerpt from LinkedIn: “…More recently, I’ve asked what may be the most important question yet: Where does lasting prosperity come from? The answer: Market-Creating Innovations. These are innovations that transform complicated and expensive products into products that are simple and affordable so that many more people in society can access them. In some cases these innovations are disruptive, but in every case the new markets that are created serve as a strong foundation for sustained economic growth. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to learn how to ask good questions from so many people — my family, my students at Harvard Business School, executives of major corporations, and Presidents and Prime Ministers of nations. But the goal of asking questions is always to get to better answers. So I offer here some of the most important answers I’ve found over my years of teaching to life’s most challenging question…”

Robot Valets Will Soon Park Cars at London’s Gatwick Airport. CNN Business explains: “Travelers flying out of London’s Gatwick Airport may soon have a robot parking their car. Later this year, the airport will test an autonomous robot that slides a large, slender bed beneath vehicles and totes them to spots in the lot. The airport plans to experiment with this robot parking system in one of its long-term lots for three months, according to an application the airport filed with the Crawley Borough Council in December. The hope is that the autonomous system will enable the airport to pack many more cars in the same amount of lot space. Gatwick Airport is the second-largest airport in the UK after London’s Heathrow Airport. About 46.1 million travelers passed through the airport in 2018…”

Photo credit: “Stanley Robotics’ valet robot can pick up a car and move it to a parking spot.”

Why We Dominate the Earth. A post at Farnam Street got me thinking: “Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens is one of those uniquely breathtaking books that comes along but rarely. It’s broad, but scientific. It’s written for a popular audience, but never feels dumbed down. It’s new and fresh, but not based on any new primary research. Sapiens is pure synthesis. Readers will easily recognize the influence of Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Third Chimpanzee, and other similarly broad-yet-scientific works with vast synthesis and explanatory power. It’s not surprising, then, that Harari, a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has noted Diamond’s contributions to his thinking…”

What’s Your Worst Elevator Encounter? has news of a close call: “A group of shoppers in Wales said they were terrified when they became trapped in a malfunctioning shopping-center elevator that rose and plunged repeatedly at a higher-than-usual speed. “It would go up to the top floor and just drop as if nothing had control over it,” Taris Chapman, 18, told CNN about the incident Saturday evening at St. David’s shopping center in Cardiff. A spokeswoman for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, which responded to the incident, said no one was visibly hurt and no ambulance was involved. Around a dozen people were affected, Chapman wrote in a Facebook post, adding that the elevator was “just plunging us down seven floors with force whilst jolting...”

-19 F. minimum temperature on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.

-1 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.

25 F. average high on January 29.

17 F. high on January 29, 2018.

January 30, 1994: Duluth has a record low of -35.

WEDNESDAY: Sunny peeks, dangerously cold. Feels like -40 to -50F. Winds: NW 10-15. High: -14

THURSDAY: More clouds, chance of flurries. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: -26. High: -4

FRIDAY: Peeks of sun, go ahead and exhale. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: -5. High: 18

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, well-earned thaw. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 15. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Rain or freezing rain possible. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 31. High: 36

MONDAY: Wet snow tapers to flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 24. High: 29

TUESDAY: Colder, chance of snow late. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 10. High: 19

Climate Stories…

How Frigid Polar Vortex Blasts Are Connected to Global Warming. Counterintuitive? Absolutely, but follow along and connect the dots. The Conversation has a good explainer: “…Because of rapid Arctic warming, the north/south temperature difference has diminished. This reduces pressure differences between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, weakening jet stream winds. And just as slow-moving rivers typically take a winding route, a slower-flowing jet stream tends to meander. Large north/south undulations in the jet stream generate wave energy in the atmosphere. If they are wavy and persistent enough, the energy can travel upward and disrupt the stratospheric polar vortex. Sometimes this upper vortex becomes so distorted that it splits into two or more swirling eddies. These “daughter” vortices tend to wander southward, bringing their very cold air with them and leaving behind a warmer-than-normal Arctic…”

Graphic credit: “Dark arrows indicate rotation of the polar vortex in the Arctic; light arrows indicate the location of the polar jet stream when meanders form and cold, Arctic air dips down to mid-latitudes.” L.S. Gardiner/UCAR, CC BY-ND

Are Record Snowstorms Proof That Global Warming Isn’t Happening? NOAA’s explains: “…While the explanation for these trends remains elusive, warming has made the atmosphere wetter and this may be leading to more extreme rain and snowfall in these storms. Scientists have measured a significant increase in water vapor in the surface atmosphere over land and ocean relative to the 1970s. This global increase is consistent with the long-term warming trend in our planet’s average surface temperature. Warmer air temperatures fuel more evaporation, leading to a wetter atmosphere, which increases rain or snow totals. The precipitation boost may be especially significant for coastal winter storms like Nor’easters, such as the one that buried Boston in mid-February. These storms draw much of their intensity from the extreme contrast between cold air over land and warmer, wetter air from over the ocean. Warmer ocean temperatures may make the air aloft warmer and moister, amplifying the contrast. That wetter air is then brought into the storm system, producing large amounts of snow...”

Image credit: “Warmer ocean temperatures may make the air aloft warmer and moister. That wetter air is then brought into the storm system, producing large amounts of snow.”  NOAA cartoon by Emily Greenhalgh.

Gone in a Generation. A rapidly changing climate is already disrupting lives, according to a story at The Washington Post: “The continental United States is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was a century ago. Seas at the coasts are nine inches higher. The damage is mounting from these fundamental changes, and Americans are living it. These are their stories.”

Climate Change Could Hit These Companies Hardest. Food for thought from Barrons: “Climate change could be big trouble for cruise companies like Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises . The same goes for pharmaceutical firms Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb , utility company Consolidated Edison, and semiconductor player Micron Technology . That’s all according to Four Twenty Seven, a market intelligence firm that does climate-risk analytics. Its ranking of the S&P 500 companies most at risk—and least at risk—from the effects of climate change appeared exclusively in this week’s Barron’s cover story…”

Photo credit: Yolanda Sun.

Americans Are Worried About Climate Change – But Don’t Want to Pay Much to Fix It. Vox explains: “Several recent polls show that people in the United States are increasingly alarmed about climate change. According to a nationally representative survey from Yale University and George Mason University, 69 percent of Americans are “somewhat worried” about climate change and 29 percent are “very worried.” These are the highest values since the surveys began in 2008, and the “very worried” category shows an 8 percent jump compared to the previous survey published in April 2018. “We’ve never seen that happen before,” said co-author Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. “My read of it is that basically, people are more convinced that it’s happening and more convinced that it’s human-caused...”

Image credit: A majority of Americans say they want the government to address climate change.” AP-NORC/Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago

The New Language of Climate Change. Politico Magazine has the story: “Leading climate scientists and meteorologists are banking on a new strategy for talking about climate change: Take the politics out of it. That means avoiding the phrase “climate change,” so loaded with partisan connotations as it is. Stop talking about who or what is most responsible. And focus instead on what is happening and how unusual it is—and what it is costing communities. That was a main takeaway at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting this month, where top meteorologists and environmental scientists from around the country gathered to hear the latest research on record rainfall and drought, debate new weather prediction models and digest all manner of analysis on climatic mutations...”

Florida’s New Governor Shifts Gears on Environment, Maybe Climate Change. So much for legacy of Rick Scott. Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “Florida’s new Republican governor has moved quickly on a number of environmental priorities, but so far, he has stopped short of any comprehensive plan to cut greenhouse gas pollution. That’s a gaping hole, say environmental advocates, but they give him credit where they say it’s due. Several of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ early environmental directives are aimed at cleaning up water and helping Florida adapt to the effects of global warming, including more intense hurricanes and sea level rise that threatens to swallow parts of the state in the coming decades. He called for appointing chief science officer to coordinate scientific research, and he staked an opposition to fracking and offshore oil and gas activities...”

File image: NASA.

Food, Climate & The Global Syndemic: Links and headlines via Climate Nexus: “Obesity, malnutrition and climate change are three of the largest interlinked threats facing the world today and are being exacerbated by poor policy decisions, a new report says. The latest installment from the Lancet Commission on Obesity, published in the medical journal this week, finds that climate change will “considerably compound” the impacts of obesity and starvation worldwide, and the three threats compose “a synergy of pandemics that co-occur,” otherwise known as a “global syndemic.” The report makes several policy recommendations, including nutrition and sustainability labels on food, investments in public transportation, and increased transparency on political contributions to show the influence of agribusiness and food conglomerates. “What we’re doing now is unsustainable,” study author William Dietz told reporters. “The only thing we can hope is that a sense of urgency will permeate. We’re running out of time.” (CNN, Thomson Reuters Foundation, BloombergVox. Commentary: The Guardian, Felicity Lawrence op-ed).

File image: WCCO Radio.

We Weren’t Always So Divided on Climate. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: “…The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago found that nearly half of Americans support a carbon tax and that support climbs once people understand how the funds would be used. If the tax is targeted toward environmental restoration, almost two-thirds support it. More than half support it if the tax goes toward renewable energy programs and public transportation solutions. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates a $2 trillion investment gap on the needs in our built environment. If made well, investments in transportation, water and wastewater, and energy, among other areas, could improve our resilience while also enhancing our economic competitiveness...”

Image credit: Big Think.