Records Broken By The 2019 Polar Vortex Are Adding Up — And They're Downright Unbelievable

By Caroline Burke
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The polar vortex has arrived, and it's been every bit as fatally frigid as meteorologists were predicting it to be. According to Axios, multiple records have been broken by the 2019 polar vortex, and they're related to how unspeakably cold temperatures have been in the midwestern region of the United States. The outlet reports that some areas of the region have seen temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit, including wind chill — a temperature that could cause frostbite in minutes.

Ricky Castro, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Illinois, said the weather pattern this winter could "possibly be history-making." Not to mention, states of emergency were declared in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Mississippi on Wednesday morning, per BBC.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, BBC notes that over 20 million people in the continental United States are predicted to experience temperatures of minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit or lower by the end of the week. Needless to say, that means a large population of the country is likely to be exposed to dangerously cold weather.

Here are some of the wildest records that have been broken so far by the polar vortex, because this winter is bound to go down in the books:

Minneapolis Registered The Coldest Temperature In The City Since 1996

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Per Axios, Minneapolis recorded a low of minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday morning, which was the lowest temperature for the city since 1996. What's more, AccuWeather notes that Minneapolis recorded 14 consecutive hours of "RealFeel" temperatures of minus 50 degrees on Tuesday evening and night; this means the real temperature, plus the wind chill.

Des Moines Set A Record Low For A Daytime Temperature

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In Des Moines, Iowa, the city experienced a daily record low of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday; combined with wind chills, the temperature was closer to minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit, per Axios.

Allan Curtis, an NWS meteorologist in Des Moines, said to the Des Moines Register, "We're not exactly surprised that the records fell since this week was forecast well. I think what takes a lot of people by surprise is the fact that we haven't had this kind of cold in 22 years or more, since 1996 or, before that, 1965."

Chicago Experienced A Record Low For Jan. 30 Temperature

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Chicago has broken its daily low temperature for Jan. 30, ABC Chicago reports, with a temperature of minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit (as well as minus 49 degree wind chills) recorded at O'Hare International Airport.

ABC Chicago further noted that Chicago is expected to break its all-time low temperature for the city on Wednesday evening, with predicted lows of minus 27 degrees Fahrenheit. The news network reports that over 1,800 flights have been cancelled due to the cold.

Six States Recorded Temperatures As Low As The South Pole

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According to AccuWeather, six states in the U.S. experienced temperatures that were equal to or less than the minus 27 degree Fahrenheit temperature that was registered at the South Pole Station on Wednesday morning. These states were North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.

The polar vortex is predicted to continue through Thursday evening, per The New York Times, with a continued onslaught of dangerously frigid temperatures across the midwest. If you live in any of these areas, you should pay attention to any local or national advisories pertaining to the cold. If you see homeless people sleeping outside at night, you can call 311 to find out information about the closest shelters and to report the location of those in danger.