Parts of the US Are Colder Than Antarctica Amid ‘Polar Vortex’

January 30, 2019 Updated: January 30, 2019

Temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) were recorded in Wisconsin on Wednesday morning as part of the “polar vortex” deep freeze affecting much of the Midwest.

Only one temperature station in Antarctica recorded a temperature lower than minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, according to AccuWeather.

At the same time, La Crosse, Wisconsin, had temperatures of minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) at 5.20 a.m. on Wednesday, said the National Weather Service.

“We have officially hit -30 here at the NWS La Crosse office as of 520 a.m. The wind chill is -54. Be sure to dress appropriately if you’re heading out for the day,” said the NWS La Crosse office on Twitter.

It added that it’s possibly the all-time coldest record for the office.

“Official records for the office go back to Jan. 1, 2000. The office opened in 1996, so it’s possible it may have been colder at some point. -25 had been the coldest on Jan. 6, 2014 & Jan. 29, 2019,” it tweeted.

Temperatures in Chicago, meanwhile, hit to about 22 degrees below zero in the morning, said weather forecasters.

“One of the coldest arctic air mass intrusions in recent memory is surging south into the Upper Midwest before spreading across much of the eastern two-thirds of the country,” said the National Weather Service.

Wind chill warnings were in effect for much of the Midwest.

“Through late week, expect frigid temperatures, bitterly cold and life-threatening wind chills, likely leading to widespread record lows and low maximum temperatures from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley,” the NWS stated on its website.

Temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) were recorded in Wisconsin on Wednesday morning as part of the “polar vortex” deep freeze affecting much of the Midwest. (NWS)

“The heart of this cold… is hitting us now. A lot of records are going to fall,” said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the NWS’s Weather Prediction Center in Maryland, Reuters reported.

With officials in Illinois and the Northern states advising residents to stay indoors, dashcam footage from one trucker taken outside Grand Rapids, Michigan gave a snapshot of hair-raising driving conditions.

“I about just got caught in a giant wreck; cars are into other pickups, there’s people hurt. I gotta let you go.” Jason Coffelt is heard saying in an Instagram posting dated Tuesday, as his truck is forced off the highway and pulls up just before a multi-vehicle accident.

In neighboring Illinois, Chicago was bracing for one of its coldest days on record.

Almost 2,000 flights were canceled early Wednesday, largely out of Chicago O’Hare and Chicago Midway international airports, the flight tracking site FlightAware.

Train service Amtrak said it had canceled all trains in and out of the city, where Hurley forecast minus 15 Fahrenheit on Wednesday and a record-low minus 27 on Thursday. The bitter cold is being carried by the polar vortex, a stream of air that spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole, but whose current has been disrupted and is now pushing south.

Reuters contributed to this report

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