Polar Vortex Arriving With Historic And Life Threatening Temps/Wind Chills Now Through Friday
(5:00PM - 1/29/19) The very cold and dangerous temperatures that we've been talking about for what seems like almost a week now are just about to arrive into the heart of the Midwest as we are in store what could be a historically cold outbreak across portions of Illinois.
Looking upstream at temperatures across portions of the northern plains and northern Midwest, we can see on the surface map below that there are already widespread temperatures of -20 degrees below zero and this is the air that is going to be making its way south and southeast over the next 12 to 18 hours, arriving into portions of Illinois overnight and tomorrow morning.
As mentioned yesterday, widespread wind chill warnings were issued by many National Weather Services offices from North Dakota and all the way down into portions of central Illinois. The warnings across Illinois will go into effect this evening and continue into the the morning and early afternoon hours on Thursday. Model guidance continues to suggest widespread wind chill values tomorrow morning between -45 and -55 degrees below zero the the counties below in light purple.
Click the link below for more details from the National Weather Service regarding all Wind Chill Warnings across the state
The loop below is a temperature forecast off one high resolution model, running from 4pm this afternoon through 9am tomorrow morning across much of the state. This is showing, and is in good agreement with other model guidance of widespread temperatures of -20 degrees below zero with some areas getting much colder than that. The favored cold spots across northwest and north central Illinois could drop off to near -30 degrees by tomorrow morning.
As we have continued to say, this isn't going to be a short duration cold snap as model guidance continues to show Thursday morning being just as cold or tomorrow morning, if not a bit colder thanks to high pressure being nearly overhead. This will lead to a textbook setup to allow for maximum temperature drop late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Some guidance is even suggesting widespread temperatures of -30 degrees or colder away from the immediate urban heat island of Chicago. The favored cold spots of Aurora and Rochelle, IL look to easily reach that temperature as things look now. The image below is forecast temperatures off one model at 6am on Thursday.
The worst period remains to be tomorrow morning from a wind chill standpoint as the still gusty westerly winds married with the temperatures expected will lead to dangerous cold and life threatening wind chill values. These values will potentially get as cold as -55 degrees across some portions of northern Illinois and down to near -45 degrees across portions of central Illinois.
This has been mentioned in several of our posts, and will continue to be given the importance... It should be noted and 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 outdoors. 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. Park your car in a garage or other enclosed location, or use an engine block heater to ensure the best chance that your car will start. Be sure to try and maintain a full tank of gas, which can help prevent water in your lines freezing. Warm your car for a period of time before driving, to prevent hoses from bursting and the engine block from cracking. Widespread school closings are likely and expected for a couple days during this period for the hardest hit areas. It would not be surprising if some businesses are closed or ask you to work from home if possible on the coldest days. 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. if your pipes do freeze, shut the water off at the main shut off. If running space heaters within your home, be extremely cautious and aware of high fire potential. Do not use your oven, stove burners or grill to heat your home. The strain on the power grid could cause some power outages. Have a winter weather preparedness kit ready or a backup location to stay incase of a power outage, as the temperature within your home will quickly drop to uninhabitable levels. If running a generator, run it outdoors and not in your garage, due to exhaust and fire hazards.
Below is out TAM cold/wind chill forecast for this period.
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