Published: Wed, January 30, 2019
Science | By Celia Watts

Midwest braces for potentially record-breaking temperatures as winter storm approaches

Midwest braces for potentially record-breaking temperatures as winter storm approaches

It's only the fourth time the zoo has been closed during its 85-year-history.

Morning lows may reach the minus 20s in the Twin Cities, while Des Moines, Iowa, Chicago, and Milwaukee may experience minus teens and minus 20s by Wednesday and Thursday, according to

As he has several times in the past, President Trump again tweeted about global warming during a cold snap: Late Monday, he tweeted that "in the attractive Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded.What the hell is going on with Global Warming?"

Temperatures in nearly a dozen states stretching over 1,200 miles from the Dakotas to OH were forecast to be the coldest in a generation, if not on record. Forecast suggest Wednesday's high temperatures in the Midwest might be some of the coldest on record for certain locations, and Thursday morning's low temperatures could also set new records.

Heavy snow has led to the closure of Michigan's state government, including the Capitol building and legislative offices, as a snowstorm moves across the region ahead of frigidly cold weather.

Brutally cold wind chills are expected through the end of the week.

"The charitable organizations responsible for operating shelters are adding emergency capacity as they do whenever unsafe extreme temperature events occur", said Hennepin County Emergency Management Director Eric Waage.

The weather service issued a statement about the "very unsafe and life-threatening Arctic blast" heading toward the upper Midwest and eastern two-thirds of the country.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged residents to check on their neighbors and take safety precautions. The mercury dipped to minus 44 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42 Celsius) in International Falls, Minnesota, on Sunday morning, breaking the previous record by 8 degrees, the NWS said in a tweet.

In Minnesota, blustery weather could mean wind chills that could approach 70 below.

Both airports were hit with roughly 3 inches of fresh snow by 6 a.m. Monday, according to the most recent snowfall totals from the National Weather Service.

The drastic cooling event, which forecasters have dubbed "Barney" because of its rash of purple color in weather models, stems from "a sudden and drastic warming of the air in the stratosphere, some 100,000 feet above the Arctic", Axios reported. "Where the polar vortex goes, so goes the cold air", said Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research.

Known as the polar vortex, the abnormally cold weather system is a result of a change in wind patterns across northern polar regions.

Meteorologist Tyler Hasenstein of the National Weather Service says parts of far southeastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin could see up to 14 inches (35.5 centimeters) of snow.

Most county-run offices are closed in Milwaukee, Dane, Rock, Waukesha, Columbia and Washington counties. Forecasters warned of up to 3 inches (7 centimeters) of snow in central MS and Alabama by Tuesday morning and said temperatures will plummet as arctic cold blasts southward.

Hundreds of schools in the region cancelled classes through Wednesday, and the governors of Wisconsin and MI declared states of emergency amid wind chills as low as negative 60 degrees (negative 51 Celsius).

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