I braved the vortex this morning to walk to a local supermarket (less than two miles round trip). In the end, to my surprise, I overdid the layers. I was hot and sweaty when I got home. The only real challenge was my face. I brought goggles, but the wind wasn’t blowing hard enough to justify them. In the end, I just pulled up my neck warmers and that was fine. Moisture control is a pain, though, with every breath creating crackling ice.
Definitely the coldest I’ve ever seen in the Twin Cities. Raw temp is -30°F; wind chill is -52.
I saw this explanation of the “Polar Vortex” on the MPR News Updraft blog yesterday:
Apparently our winter has tired of my mockery. Thus far it has been a toothless sham — moderate temperatures with little snow. As often as not, I’ve walked to work in my summer shoes.
All of that is changing this week. The kids’ school (along with all nearby public school districts) closed yesterday due to snow and will remain closed through Wednesday. My school, generally loathe to close, is closed today and tomorrow. Thursday is unknown at this point.
This is all due to the latest polar vortex that’s bringing a mass of arctic air down from Canada. Raw air temps aren’t all that crazy (we see a few days pushing -20 most years), but the winds will be increasing dramatically, creating some insane wind chill values. As someone who walks to work, I can attest to the fact that the wind is the most important factor that I consider when planning my layers. When temps are below zero, even a moderate wind in your face is basically a show-stopper without face and eye protection.
When we got up this morning, it wasn’t so bad. Cold, but safe enough if you’re properly dressed.
I’ll post updates later to see what actually happens out there.