Surviving the Polar Vortex

January typically calls for some of the coldest and nastiest weather of the year, but this 2019, it is seriously getting out of hand. These below zero temperatures, severe wind chills and freezing air are being dubbed as the “Polar Vortex.” This phenomenon is caused by arctic air from the North Pole, held in place by a jet stream. When met with high and low pressure systems, the jet stream bends, therefore forcing it south. Basically? It causes extremely cold weather in the area it hits. So far, that is a huge portion of the United States, mainly the midwest, rust belt and New England areas.


As a Minnesota/midwest native, I definitely know a thing or two about cold weather. I am used to temperatures in the teens and single digits, but it hasn’t been this cold in a long time. Luckily, I managed to escape the arctic climate this winter by going to school in Boston, but it is still pretty chilly here. (My friends from New England like to tease me about how unfazed I seem about the weather.)


Now, there is the pretty obvious advice I can give you about making sure that you have a sturdy winter coat, thick gloves or mittens, a hat or earmuffs, and a scarf, but you probably already know that. I do ask you, however, to be extremely mindful of exposed skin: frostbite can occur within 30 minutes in weather with wind chills -19 and below. In extreme wind chills below -30, it can take 10 minutes or less. Toes, fingers, noses (the whole face in general) and ears are the first to develop frostbite. Please be careful when going outside, and avoid areas that have high wind speeds.


Another thing to think about is how there are so many people that struggle to purchase heavy winter jackets and other necessities, so please consider donating gently used coats and other winter wear to local coat drives this winter season. If you are able, many shelters ask for new coats for donations as well.


Hopefully this freezing weather doesn’t stick around for too long, but don’t let it get you down. Take advantage of it. Find some sun to bask in, or make it an excuse to drink some hot cocoa or tea. When it snows, go sledding or make some snow people or angels, but always remember to bundle up! Happy winter!