Temperatures are plunging once again across the Midwest, adding to what’s been an unusually cold and brutal winter. The drastically cold weather that’s gripping the Midwest this winter has caused all types of problems ranging from frozen pipes to widespread school closings due to extreme cold and blowing & drifting snow. The prolonged stretch of cold has also set up the greatest ice cover on the Great Lakes this early in the winter since 1994. Now, the Great Lakes are nearly 50 percent covered in ice with Lake Erie being the most affected as 94% of that lake is now ice-covered.
In Michigan, residents are bracing yet again for another round of brutally cold weather. To add insult to injury, the Great Lakes State is going to get more snow to usher in the new work week. And, because of winds gusting to between 20 and 30 miles per hour, the snow that does come down will blow and drift to cause many problems on roadways. As this new deep freezes settles over the Midwest, officials are warning motorists of hazardous road conditions for Monday and Tuesday’s commute.
Michigan State Police are warning people that if they have to travel early this week to adjust their speed according to the weather conditions. Wind chills will dip to 30 to 40 degrees below zero across the Midwest early Monday. The teeth-chattering cold will and linger over the region until the morning hours of Wednesday.
The National Weather Service said Sunday that this blast of brutally cold air hitting the Midwest will rival the frigid days from earlier this month. Many home and business owners in the Midwest have already faced many problems from the recent polar vortex including frozen water pipes that burst, vehicles not starting and furnace issues. This latest round of cold weather will undoubtedly keep furnace repair and plumbing services very busy once again. In addition to pipes bursting all across the Midwest during the polar vortex, there were also numerous fires to extinguish due to people using blowtorches and heat guns on frozen pipes. People are being reminded never to use such devices on frozen pipes as insulation and other materials inside walls, crawlspaces and attics can easily ignite and burn.
Detroit has received nearly 32 inches of snow so far in January, smashing the old record of just over 29 inches set in January of ’78. And, more snow is coming to the Motor City which has prompted road crews to scramble to clear away roadways before they ice over. A spokesperson for the Michigan Dept. of Transportation said Sunday that every major expressway in the southeastern part of the state had some type of accident or weather-related delay this weekend. Most were crashes resulting in careless drivers going too fast or traveling too closely behind vehicles in front of them.
Hardware and grocery stores all across the Midwest have been doing brisk business this weekend as people are stocking up on supplies ahead of the sub-zero temperatures and new snowfall that’s on the way. Extreme cold temperatures being caused by an historic ‘polar vortex’ could result in record lows across the Midwest and extreme cold in the Northeast. Conditions in the Midwest could very well become life-threatening for anyone who is not properly dressed so people are being urged to bundle up well if they have to venture outdoors early this week.
The short-lived, yet very powerful cold blast of air will likely freeze over the Great Lakes and other bodies of water. The state of Minnesota is not taking any chances as it’s already canceled Monday classes in all of its schools because of the dangerously cold weather.
Even though bundling up during the wintertime is second nature to residents of the Midwest, this historic cold is something most people have never experienced. The weather forecast is nothing short of shocking as it may be as cold as -25 in places like Fargo, ND, -31 in northern Minnesota and -15 in Chicago and Cincinnati. At those temperatures, it only takes a few short minutes for exposed skin to become frostbitten and for hypothermia to set in as wind chills can dip as low as 50, 60 or even 70 degrees below the freezing mark. Properties will face extreme challenge with their plumbing, and there is certain to be a large increase with burst pipes and home flood disasters.
The good news is that the bone-chilling cold is only expected to grip the Midwest for a few short days. On the downside, there may be an additional 6 to 12 inches of snow coming down on top of the up to a foot many areas already have. And, when heavy snowfall is accompanied by 35 mile per hour or so winds, getting around by car can be very difficult, dangerous and even impossible.
People living in the Midwest are being urged to dress well if they have to venture outdoors. Those traveling by car are being told to check their batteries and to carry some extras with them such as blankets, jumper cables and cat litter. People are also being told that if they do become stranded when driving, to stay in their vehicles until help arrives. Snow plows across the Midwest will be out in full force Sunday and Monday, doing battle with the winter weather that’s sure to snarl rush hour in cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis and Detroit.