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It's Back: Polar Vortex Brings -50 Temperatures Next Week

University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer

How do you feel about the weather in 2019 so far? Cold enough for you?

Well, if you've been hoping for warmer weather to drive away the winter blues... we have bad news.

Next week, meteorologists are predicting a major cold snap to chill the eastern half of the country, as freezing air is pulled south in the polar vortex.

National Weather Service
Cold arctic air from the polar vortex sometimes stretches down to chill the U.S.National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center - Twitter

The polar vortex, for those of us who forgot, is a large area of low pressure and cold air above the North Pole (the South Pole has its own similar low pressure system). Because the freezing air flows counterclockwise, this weather system is called a vortex.

This cold air usually stays in place high above the Arctic surface. But in winter, the vortex can expand dramatically, carrying cold air south with the jet stream. The sudden arrival of the freezing air lowers temperatures, and that's just what it's expected to do next week.

Weather watchers are warning a blast from the vortex will chill thermometers throughout the Northeast and Midwest in the coming days, and the cold snap is already setting in.

Polar Vortex January 2019
Temperatures will be 50 to 60 degrees below zero with windchill next week.National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center - Twitter

Daytime highs will be in the single digits as the cold front arrives this weekend, while next week will bring risks of frostbite and hypothermia, as temperatures could hit their lowest mark all season.

Along with the cold temperatures, a winter storm will bring more snow throughout the Midwest and Northeast.

Meteorologists are already predicting record-setting daytime temperatures for cities like Chicago, where the thermometer could hit minus 16 for just the third time in a century next Wednesday.

Thursday is expected to bring the worst cold of all for the Northeast, dipping the entire region 10 to 20 degrees below normal temperatures for January. And while the northern half of the country will face the brunt of the changing weather patterns, even states as far south as Florida could notice a major chill.

Next week, be sure to dress warmly and cover all exposed skin to protect yourself from frostbite. Limiting the amount of time children and pets spend outdoors is also important.

Logan Airport winter
Winter weather combined with the government shutdown could cause travel delays next week.MassDOT - Flickr

While low temperatures on their own don't necessarily complicate travel plans, the combination of freezing cold, snow, and interruptions related to the ongoing government shutdown could make next week a bad time to catch a flight or drive cross-country.

But you can continue to check in for updates on the cold snap, as workers at the National Weather Service are continuing to do their jobs without pay.

[H/T: AccuWeather]

Are you prepared for the polar vortex?

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