As people in the West like those living in California are experiencing record-breaking heat, people residing in the Midwest are shivering from the cold. It was just about a week ago that an extreme polar vortex brought some of the coldest weather in 20 years to the Midwest and Northeast.
Last year at this time in mid-January, people were wondering why it was so warm in the Midwest but this year it’s just the opposite. The reason the weather can be so drastically different in the same location from one year to the next is because of the jet stream. Storms travel this wind flow that moves west to east and sometimes the jet stream travels at about 110 miles per hour and other times at over 200 mph. This fluctuation in wind speed is what affects our weather and it’s perfectly natural to have drastically different weather patterns over an area from one year to the next.
So how cold will be it? Depends on what portions of the Midwest we’re talking about. People living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area or the Twin Cities as it’s called, are going to feel the most cold as temperatures there will struggle to reach 0 during the daytime this week. Lows in parts of Minnesota will dip far below zero making it dangerous for people to spend more than a few minutes outdoors. In places like Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit, the temperatures likely won’t reach double digits for daytime highs Tuesday but may see 13 or so as highs Wednesday and Thursday.
Even though it’s going to be bitterly cold in the Midwest this week, meteorologists say that we cannot call this blast of cold air a polar vortex. This is because a polar vortex is a weather phenomenon featuring extremely cold temps coming out of the north that’s not typically seen in the US. The cold blast of arctic air heading over the Midwest now is something that’s coming from the Canadian border, making this round of cold weather more normal during this time of the year.
From Tuesday through Thursday, the center of the cold mass heading to the Midwest will anchor itself from the Upper Plains to the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Northeast. These areas will see temperatures 10 to 25 degrees below average this week. It will also be 15 to 25 degrees cooler than normal this week in portions of the Southeast so even people living in parts of Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama will need to bundle up when heading outside.