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Midwest braces for the worst in super-cold weather

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 5th, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Record-breaking low temperatures are expected with certain amount of dread in the United States' Midwest. There are renewed fears about hypothermia deaths for the region's homeless population, and hospitals worry about being overwhelmed with cases of frostbite. In either case, it's been decades since temperatures dipped this low.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Meteorologists say that the virulent cold snap is on account of a "polar vortex," which is caused by a counterclockwise-rotating pool of cold, dense air. Gathered at the North Pole, the frigid air will be pushed down to the U.S., funneling it as far south as the Gulf Coast.

A brief, but devastating deep freeze that is expected to begin in many areas beginning this week. It's all due to a disadvantageous mixture of the jet stream, cold surface temperatures and the polar vortex. "All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak," meteorologist Ryan Maue of Florida says.

Stark weather predictions include 25 below zero in Fargo, North Dakota, minus 31 in International Falls, Minnesota, and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago. Exposed skin, unprotected skin can get frostbitten in minutes at those temperatures. Hypothermia can quickly set in because wind chills could hit 50, 60 or even 70 below zero.

The wild weather was certainly felt in the world of sports. The playoff game in Green Bay, Wisconsin could be among one of the coldest NFL games ever played. Temperatures at Lambeau Field are expected to be a frigid minus two degrees when the Packers and San Francisco 49ers kickoff, and by the fourth quarter it'll be minus seven degrees, with wind chills approaching minus 30, according to the National Weather Service.

The State of Minnesota called off school for Monday statewide, the first such closing in 17 years. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple urged superintendents to keep children's safety in making the decision after the state forecast called for "life threatening wind chills" through Tuesday morning.

Warmer weather will eventually arrive, but even then, the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, meaning frigid temperatures will likely last the rest of winter, Maue said.

"It raises the chances for future cold," Maue said, adding it could include next month's Super Bowl in New Jersey.




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