Anticipation of a
freezing blast began to build this week when weather maps and
forecast models showed similarities between next week's system
and one that developed in January 2014.
"Upper-level atmosphere configuration very similar in scale &
magnitude as infamous Jan 2014 #PolarVortex popularized by me
and @afreedma," meteorologist Ryan Maue said on Twitter on
Tuesday alongside maps comparing the two weather systems.
The southward shift in the polar vortex in 2014 brought the
Midwest some of its coldest weather in two decades. Icy
conditions snarled travel and thousands of flights were canceled
Frigid temperatures combined with gusting winds to create
life-threatening wind chills as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit
below zero (minus 51 Celsius) that killed at least nine people.
The coldest weather next week is expected in the Midwest and
Northeastern starting around Tuesday, according to forecasts
that show temperatures in the single digits in some cities.
"The air mass on the way for the middle of December is likely to
be substantially colder when compared to that of this past week
and this weekend," AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok wrote
Temperatures from the Northern and Central plains to wide
swathes of the Midwest are likely to drop by between 5 and 20
degrees Fahrenheit compared to temperatures this week, according
It is unclear how far south the cold air will be felt, according
Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest, is bracing for
temperatures in the teens next week, according to an AccuWeather
forecast, which showed a low of 17 Fahrenheit (minus 8 Celsius)
for Wednesday and Thursday.
Further north in Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul NBC affiliate
KARE forecasted temperatures dropping to 10 degrees Fahrenheit
(minus 12 Celsius) on Tuesday of next week, then 8 degrees
(minus 13 Celsius) on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago; Editing by James
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