Jan 28, 2019

If you thought the polar vortex was bad, what’s coming next is genuinely shocking

Chicago, IL
USA
by
Dan Spinelli
,
Mother Jones
Temperatures in Chicago are expected to plunge 20 degrees below zero. Photo: chrip0, Getty Iages
Temperatures in Chicago are expected to plunge 20 degrees below zero. Photo: chrip0, Getty Iages

A deadly cold snap is hitting the Midwest, plunging roughly 200 million people into one of the most frigid weeks on record. Parts of Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois will see temperatures plunge up to 50 degrees below normal, raising fears of frostbite and hypothermia for any residents venturing outdoors.

The drastic cooling event, which forecasters have dubbed “Barney” because of its rash of purple color in weather models, stems from “a sudden and drastic warming of the air in the stratosphere, some 100,000 feet above the Arctic,” Axios reported. An area of the polar vortex, which encompasses the cold air around the North Pole, broke off with the bulk of its impact hitting the Midwest.

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Extreme weather events have become increasingly common in recent months as the effects of worsening global warming continue to manifest—from record cold temperatures this week to a torrid heat wave last year. “If you think of climate change as a kind of disorder the planet has, one of the greatest symptoms is increasing extreme weather events,” meteorologist Nick Humphrey told Mother Jones this summer. “Prior to human-induced global warming, climate changes were relatively slow over the course of hundreds to thousands of years.”