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Here’s a post full of weather facts that you might not be aware of regarding the extreme cold across the eastern half of the United States. I have also included some interesting global tidbits.

polar vortex

  • The NWS in Twin Cities issued a PDS Wind Chill Warning. You only see that with severe weather (tornadoes). Personally, never seen that issued.
  • PDS = Potentially Dangerous Situation
  • The cold air is associated with a “Polar Vortex”, a term used a lot through media this past weekend
  • Polar Vortex = persistent large cyclone over the poles
  • A piece of the Polar Vortex shifted from the North Pole and is across the United States this week
  • Schools are closing due to the extreme cold, not because of ice or snow hazards
  • Chicago, Minneapolis, Green Bay, and Milwaukee all had school closures Monday (1/6/14) due to the extreme cold
  • Wind chill temperatures between -15° to -30°F can create frostbite within 30 minutes
  • Wind chill temperatures greater than -30°F can result in frostbite in less than 10 minutes
  • Parts of the higher elevations in the North Georgia mountains could see wind chill temperatures colder than -25°F
  • Tonight will be the first night Athens has seen single digits since February 1996.
  • Temperatures will likely remain below freezing (32° or colder) for at least 50 consecutive hours across North Georgia
  • We will not get above freezing until Wednesday afternoon
  • Last time it got below 10°F in Atlanta was back in 2003
  • Last time Athens had single digits: February 5, 1996 at 7°F
  • Athens experienced low temperatures below zero back on January 20-21, 1985 at -1°F and -4°F
  • -4°F is the coldest temperature ever recorded in Athens since record keeping began
  • Athens has only recorded 5 dates since 1899 that had temperatures below 0°
  • Record low for Athens on Tuesday, January 7 is 12°F back in 1970. We should easily beat that tonight
  • The coldest high temperature ever recorded on January 7 was 30°F back in 1905. We should easily beat that record tomorrow with highs only climbing into the mid to upper 20s
  • Antifreeze can freeze up at -35°F
  • It is warmer in Anchorage, Alaska than in Athens/Atlanta, Georgia today
  • While we are cold, we are seeing record breaking warmth across the Southwest U.S.
  • Parts of California are 10 to 20 degrees above average
  • There is a spread of 160° from Minnesota to Florida if you look at wind chill temperatures. Feels like -60°F up north and roughly 70°F in Key West, Florida
  • It is colder in Chicago right now -12°F (at 5PM EST on 1/6/2014) than in the South Pole (Antarctica) (Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station) at -9°F (See image below)

cold chicago

Global facts:

Temperatures across Australia are hot on January 6, 2014.

Temperatures across Australia are hot on January 6, 2014.

  • Major heat continues to build across parts of South America and Australia
  • The climate continues to warm, and just because it is cold here does not mean it is cold everywhere else
  • We will continue to see cold and snow in the winter. It is, after all……winter
  • 2013 was Australia’s hottest year ever recorded
  • November 2013 was the warmest November ever recorded globally since record keeping began
  • Climate scientists expect a wide variety of weather extremes each year. We could see a warm winter one year and brutally cold one the next. However, the global average temperature continues to indicate temperatures above average from the mean.

Here’s some great points made by Meteorologist Brad Panovich via Facebook:

  • Don’t assume every student has the proper attire for 7°. There’s a reason we do Coats for Kids drives. Let alone hats, gloves or scarfs.
  • Don’t assume everyone has proper heating sources. I know many people that only use space heaters in their homes around Charlotte.
  •  Our building codes aren’t the same as up north. Insulation and depth of water lines are much different here than let’s say Minnesota.
  • School buses here don’t have Block Heaters they do up north. Some school delays are more for the buses than the kids.
  • This is a rare event, once every 10-20 years so better safe than sorry.

And finally, a quote from Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Atmospheric Sciences Professor at the University of Georgia and President of the American Meteorological Society regarding schools closing down in the Southeast due to the cold weather:

Before questioning the decision to shut down schools in Georgia because of the cold, it is important to remember that certain segments of the population may not have the winter wardrobe, heat or resources we do. Vulnerable groups always bear the brunt of natural hazards that may seem trivial to those of us that are more resilient……Just because my kid has an adequate coat and layers, it is short-sighted of me to assume every kid does.

Now you know. Stay warm!