(7:45AM - 1/28/19) We are continuing to keep a very close eye on the Tuesday night through Friday morning time-frame as this still is looking like a potentially historic and record breaking cold outbreak across the Midwest, including portions of Illinois. Everything up to this point still looks on track from a visit from our old friend, the polar vortex from up north as it swoops down into the Midwest during the middle portion of this week. It has been quite the month of January for winter weather after the warm start but Old Man Winter has returned and he doesn't plan on letting up till at least the end of this week.
The main driver of this dangerous cold and potentially life threatening outbreak will be the polar vortex, which really hasn't come around since that brutal January of 2014. We will also get an assist from a deep snow pack over portions of the area as temperatures tend to drop colder with fresh snow on the ground.
Now time for a quick update on how this evolves and what to expect...
We can see on the loop below (that runs from this morning through Wednesday afternoon), our lobe of the polar vortex will rotate its way down through central Canada and into the Midwest by late Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, delivering what could be all time record breaking temperatures. It is when this is nearly overhead on Wednesday morning that we will most likely seeing near record or pushing for the all time coldest temperatures.
For what to actually expect at the surface and outside (if you're brave enough to be outside), model guidance continues showing what could be a 60-72 hour stretch of below zero temperatures for many locations across all of northern Illinois, especially immediately west of the Chicago downtown area. It has been crazy to see days and days of computer model coming in and showing temperatures of -30 degrees across portions of northern Illinois and they continue to spit out those values. This would set records area wide for the coldest temperature ever recorded! Updates will continue over the coming days as the heart of the coldest air approaches Illinois by tomorrow night and Wednesday morning. The thing to take away most from this article post is that we are in store for a several day period of near record and dangerously cold/life threatening temperatures.
Wednesday morning continues to looks the absolute coldest of this stretch with the combination of wind and temperatures below nearing -25 degrees leading to some outlandishly cold wind chill values. Thursday morning is not far behind though given some guidance is also suggesting temperatures as cold as -25 degrees that morning as well. Wednesday morning is when wind chill values could dip to or drop below the -50 mark across portions of northern Illinois and -40 into central Illinois. As stated in previous articles, some model guidance is even colder than that down to near -60 degrees for a wind chill.
As mentioned in a previous update...The main takeaways from this potentially historic and record cold outbreak is that it should be not taken lightly on how extreme and rare the temps and wind chills expected across Northern and portions of Central Illinois will be. These will be life threatening and deadly conditions for any person or animal that has to live outside or be outside for any lengthy periods of time. Hypothermia and frostbite risk will be extremely high, with them being possible in an incredibly short period of exposure time. Persons that must be outdoors for any period of time are highly advised to dress in layers, and try to limit that time. If you do not have to be outdoors, do not venture out. When letting pets out, keep the time outdoors very minimal. If traveling, have a winter preparedness kit with you for if your car dies or you become stranded...that's even if your car will start in the first place. Widespread school closings are likely and expected for one or more days during this period for the hardest hit areas. It would not be surprising if some businesses are closed on the coldest days either. Given how cold it is, water pipes bursting will be a high possibility as well. Thus, it is recommended that if your pipes are not insulated, that you leave water running on very low to keep ice from building within the lines.
Below is our TAM temp/wind chill forecast for the period.
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