Record-breaking cold coming to the Midwest
By IVAN MORENO
Tuesday, January 29
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Extreme cold and record-breaking temperatures are crawling into parts of the Midwest after a powerful snowstorm pounded the region, and forecasters warn that the frigid weather could be life-threatening.
Minneapolis Public Schools officials have canceled classes through Wednesday, when the region is expected to experience frigidly low temperatures not seen in a quarter century. Hundreds of Michigan schools were closed Tuesday, including in Detroit, while Chicago Public Schools canceled Wednesday classes because of the anticipated cold snap.
“You’re talking about frostbite and hypothermia issues very quickly, like in a matter of minutes, maybe seconds,” said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center.
Subzero temperatures will begin Tuesday, but Wednesday is expected to be the worst. Wind chills in northern Illinois could fall to negative 55 degrees (negative 48 degrees Celsius), which the National Weather Service called “possibly life threatening.” Minnesota temperatures could hit minus 30 degrees (negative 34 degrees Celsius) with a wind chill of negative 60 (negative 51 degrees Celsius).
The potentially record-breaking low temperature forecast in Milwaukee is negative 28 degrees (negative 33 degrees Celsius), with a wind chill as low as negative 50 (negative 45 degrees Celsius). The current record of minus 26 degrees (negative 32 degrees Celsius) was set in 1996.
“That’s 40 degrees below normal,” Hurley said.
The unusually frigid weather is attributed to a sudden warming far above the North Pole . A blast of warm air from misplaced Moroccan heat last month made the normally super chilly air temperatures above the North Pole rapidly increase. That split the polar vortex into pieces, which then started to wander, said Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research.
One of those polar vortex pieces is responsible for the subzero temperatures across the Midwest this week.
The Chicago Zoological Society said it was closing the Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday and Thursday — marking only the fourth time the zoo has closed during its 85-year history — to ensure the safety of its employees and animals. At O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, the high temperature Wednesday is expected to be negative 14 degrees (negative 25 degrees Celsius), which would break a record set on Jan. 18, 1994.
Homeless shelters were also preparing for the onslaught of cold. The Milwaukee Rescue Mission’s call volume was “unusually high,” but officials said there should still be enough beds for those who need them.
In Minneapolis, charitable groups that operate warming places and shelters were expanding hours and capacity “as they do whenever dangerous extreme temperature events occur,” said Hennepin County Emergency Management Director Eric Waage. He said ambulance crews were handling all outside response incidents as being potentially life-threatening.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said city agencies are making sure homeless people are in shelters or offered space in warming buses. He also urged residents to check on their neighbors and take safety precautions.
The governors in Michigan and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency ahead of the dangerously cold weather.
Cold weather advisories are in effect across a broad swath of the central U.S., from North Dakota to Missouri and spanning into Ohio. Temperatures will be as many as 20 degrees below average in parts of the Upper Great Lakes region and Upper Mississippi Valley, according to the National Weather Service.
On Monday, snowplow drivers had trouble keeping up with the snowfall in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where some areas got as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of snow. Chicago-area commuters woke up to heavy snowfall, with more than 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) already on the ground. In Michigan, nonessential government offices were closed, including the Capitol.
Rare snowfall was also forecast for some southern states.
Associated Press reporters Caryn Rousseau in Chicago, Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee and David Runk in Detroit, and AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.
How frigid polar vortex blasts are connected to global warming
January 29, 2019
Author: Jennifer Francis, Visiting Professor, Rutgers University
Disclosure statement: Jennifer Francis is a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. She receives funding from the National Science Foundation.
A record-breaking cold wave is sending literal shivers down the spines of millions of Americans. Temperatures across the upper Midwest are forecast to fall an astonishing 50 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) below normal this week – as low as 35 degrees below zero. Pile a gusty wind on top, and the air will feel like -60 F.
This cold is nothing to sneeze at. The National Weather Service is warning of brutal, life-threatening conditions. Frostbite will strike fast on any exposed skin. At the same time, the North Pole is facing a heat wave with temperatures approaching the freezing point – about 25 degrees Fahrenheit (14 C) above normal.
What is causing this topsy-turvy pattern? You guessed it: the polar vortex.
In the past several years, thanks to previous cold waves, the polar vortex has become entrenched in our everyday vocabulary and served as a butt of jokes for late-night TV hosts and politicians. But what is it really? Is it escaping from its usual Arctic haunts more often? And a question that looms large in my work: How does global warming fit into the story?
Rivers of air
Actually, there are two polar vortices in the Northern Hemisphere, stacked on top of each other. The lower one is usually and more accurately called the jet stream. It’s a meandering river of strong westerly winds around the Northern Hemisphere, about seven miles above Earth’s surface, near the height where jets fly.
The jet stream exists all year, and is responsible for creating and steering the high- and low-pressure systems that bring us our day-to-day weather: storms and blue skies, warm and cold spells. Way above the jet stream, around 30 miles above the Earth, is the stratospheric polar vortex. This river of wind also rings the North Pole, but only forms during winter, and is usually fairly circular.
Both of these wind features exist because of the large temperature difference between the cold Arctic and warmer areas farther south, known as the mid-latitudes. Uneven heating creates pressure differences, and air flows from high-pressure to low-pressure areas, creating winds. The spinning Earth then turns winds to the right in the northern hemisphere, creating these belts of westerlies.
Why cold air plunges south
Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have warmed the globe by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 C) over the past 50 years. However, the Arctic has warmed more than twice as much. Amplified Arctic warming is due mainly to dramatic melting of ice and snow in recent decades, which exposes darker ocean and land surfaces that absorb a lot more of the sun’s heat.
Because of rapid Arctic warming, the north/south temperature difference has diminished. This reduces pressure differences between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, weakening jet stream winds. And just as slow-moving rivers typically take a winding route, a slower-flowing jet stream tends to meander.
Large north/south undulations in the jet stream generate wave energy in the atmosphere. If they are wavy and persistent enough, the energy can travel upward and disrupt the stratospheric polar vortex. Sometimes this upper vortex becomes so distorted that it splits into two or more swirling eddies.
These “daughter” vortices tend to wander southward, bringing their very cold air with them and leaving behind a warmer-than-normal Arctic. One of these eddies will sit over North America this week, delivering bone-chilling temperatures to much of the nation.
Deep freezes in a warming world
Splits in the stratospheric polar vortex do happen naturally, but should we expect to see them more often thanks to climate change and rapid Arctic warming? It is possible that these cold intrusions could become a more regular winter story. This is a hot research topic and is by no means settled, but a handful of studies offer compelling evidence that the stratospheric polar vortex is changing, and that this trend can explain bouts of unusually cold winter weather.
Undoubtedly this new polar vortex attack will unleash fresh claims that global warming is a hoax. But this ridiculous notion can be quickly dispelled with a look at predicted temperature departures around the globe for early this week. The lobe of cold air over North America is far outweighed by areas elsewhere in the United States and worldwide that are warmer than normal.
Symptoms of a changing climate are not always obvious or easy to understand, but their causes and future behaviors are increasingly coming into focus. And it’s clear that at times, coping with global warming means arming ourselves with extra scarfs, mittens and long underwear.
Ron William, logged in via Facebook: I live in north central Wisconsin.This is the weather here right now~~
It doesn’t snow all that often when the temps are this low butt, we’ve had 2-3 days of it.
I live on a corner so, I have 4 sidewalks and a driveway to clear.Of course, I have a snowblower butt, it’s still not at all pleasant when it’s this cold as it takes approx 45 mins.
There’s a running joke here about it that goes like this:
“I saw a guy walking around wuith a clipboard so I went to him and asked what he was doing.He said he was taking names of people who cleared the snow.I asked him why and he said, “So we know who to come to plaw shut again”.
This is why most of us wait till the plows are gone as they sometimes DO plow us shut again.The above was only for the few of you with a sense of humor.
The coldest temp ever recorded in WI was -55F.https://www.wausaudailyherald.com/story/news/2019/01/28/wisconsin-cold-weather-records-five-facts-lowest-temperatures/2703679002/People ask why we live here and the reasons are what it’s like from soring to autumn.
AEP OHIO OFFERS TIPS FOR EXTREME COLD
GAHANNA, Ohio, Jan. 29, 2019 – The polar vortex is bearing down on a large swath of the United States and bringing extreme cold weather to Ohio. When the temperature drops, your home appliances may kick into overdrive, including heat pumps, gas furnace blowers and portable space heaters. These conditions can not only drive up your electric bill but they can be unsafe, too. Here are some key things to remember during the extreme cold.
Being Efficient and Staying Warm
Set thermostats as low as appropriate for staying healthy and comfortable.
Turn off lights and electric appliances that you don’t need or aren’t using.
Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible, including overhead doors on attached garages.
Open curtains on the sunny side of the house to warm up your home. If there’s no sun, close the shades to keep warm air in.
Add door sweeps and weatherization strips to reduce outside air coming in.
Cold Weather Safety
Take extreme care when using a space heater. Place it at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including walls, and unplug it before you leave the room.
Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
If you’re using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen. Be sure it’s large enough to catch sparks or rolling logs.
Use generators correctly – never operate one inside your home, including the basement or garage.
Guard against carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and that they are working properly and have fresh batteries.
Prevent your pipes from freezing by running a constant trickle of water. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
AEP Ohio will have crews ready to respond should electric service be impacted throughout its service territory. In the event you have an outage, switch off all your appliances to allow your service to be restored more efficiently.
You can report outages and get the latest restoration times by downloading the AEP Ohio app at AEPOhio.com/app or going to AEPOhio.com/outagemap. You can also call us at (800) 672-2231.
Avoiding Payment Spikes
AEP Ohio’s Average Monthly Payment (AMP) Plan evens out payments throughout the year to account for seasonal spikes in usage. Bills adjust on a 12-month rolling average and change only slightly each month, making bills more predictable. More information is available here.
We know it’s difficult when your amount due is more than expected. We have ways to help. Customers can call us at (800) 672-2231 for more information.
About AEP Ohio
AEP Ohio is based in Gahanna, Ohio, and is a unit of American Electric Power. AEP Ohio provides electricity to nearly 1.5 million customers. News and information about AEP Ohio can be found at AEPOhio.com.
American Electric Power based in Columbus, Ohio, is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to our customers. AEP’s more than 17,000 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 219,000 miles of distribution lines to efficiently deliver safe, reliable power to nearly 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 32,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including 4,300 megawatts of renewable energy. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP also owns AEP Energy, AEP Energy Partners, AEP OnSite Partners and AEP Renewables, which provide innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide.
MORPC Announces Director of Residential Services
Robert Williams Joins MORPC
(Columbus – Jan. 29, 2019) The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has announced that Robert Williams will become its new director of residential services.
The director of residential services serves as MORPC’s leading expert on home repair, energy efficiency, weatherization and associated community programs. This senior-level management position leads all programs within MORPC’s Residential Services Department and represents the department in interactions with external stakeholders – including MORPC’s local government members and associated officials, state and federal entities, utilities and funding partners.
“Robert has deep experience in leading innovative programs to improve neighborhoods and housing, an enthusiasm for community service, and familiarity with how to develop and empower a high-performing team.” MORPC Executive Director William Murdock said. “I’m really looking forward to him joining MORPC, and he’s going to be a great fit with our Residential Services team.”
Previously, Williams served as the executive director for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) / Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families Realty Collaborative (HNHF), a non-profit affordable housing organization. He began his career in community development and affordable housing at Homeport.
“I’m thrilled to be joining an organization that makes such a difference in communities throughout Central Ohio,” Williams said. “MORPC’s home energy efficiency and repair services are a vital part of ensuring that lower-income residents aren’t left with unsafe homes and high energy costs. This important work must continue, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Williams is the co-chair of the Resident Resources Network board of directors and is also on the board of directors for the Hilltop Shalom Zone. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in marketing and communications from Franklin University.
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) serves as a resource for local officials as they make decisions about economic growth, development, transportation, energy, and environmental sustainability. Through a variety of transformative programs and services, we work to improve the lives of all Central Ohio residents and make the region stand out on the world stage. For more information, please visit www.morpc.org.
PUCO offers safe home heating and utility bill assistance program reminders
COLUMBUS, OHIO (Jan. 29, 2019) –The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) offers home heating safety reminders as the winter season arrives.
Once a year, have your furnace, vents, flues and chimneys inspected by a qualified service professional.
Never use an oven to heat the house. This can damage the oven and may cause carbon monoxide to release into the home.
Plug portable space heaters directly into an outlet (not an extension cord) and make sure they stay at least three feet from anything that can burn such as curtains, paper and furniture. Look for models that have an automatic shut-off.
Test and replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
Leave the house immediately and call 911 if carbon monoxide is detected or you suspect a gas leak. Carbon monoxide poisoning creates flu-like symptoms and can cause extreme illness or death. Signs of a gas leak include a rotten egg or sulfur-like odor.
What should I do during a power outage?
All outages should be immediately reported to your electric company. Since many other customers may be calling at the same time, you may not be able to speak with a live person. You can still report your outage by following the automated instructions. This will let the utility company know the location and extent of the outage. The company must keep a record of all outages. To report an outage call:
American Electric Power (800) 672-2231
Duke Energy Ohio (800) 543-5599
Dayton Power & Light (937) 331-3900 or (800) 433-8500
FirstEnergy (800) 589-3101 (CEI Division) or (800) 633-4766 (OE Division) or (800) 447-3333 (TE Division)
Heating assistance is available
The PUCO’s winter reconnect order is available for those that have been disconnected or are threatened with disconnection from their heating source.
The Winter Reconnect Order allows residential customers the opportunity to have their service restored or maintained by paying the amount due or $175, whichever is less. If the customer’s service has already been disconnected, the customer must pay the $175 and any applicable reconnection charge not to exceed an up front payment of $36. If the company’s reconnection charge is greater than $36, the balance may be billed to the customer the following month. Customers may use the program once during the winter heating season between Oct. 15, 2018 and April 15, 2019.
Any customer of a PUCO-regulated electric or natural gas utility may take advantage of the order. Last winter heating season, more than 217,000 Ohio utility customers utilized the PUCO’s Winter Reconnect Order.
Several other state and federal programs are available to assist those who qualify. The PUCO encourages customers to explore all options including PIPP Plus, HEAP and the Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP). More information about these programs and additional ways to save on home heating bills this winter are available at Ohio’s Winter Heating Resource website www.winterheat.ohio.gov. Visitors to this site will also find information about budget billing, energy choice and energy conservation.
For more information about enrollment in the Winter Reconnect Order, payment plans or budget billing, customers should contact their electric or natural gas utility. Customers who have utility-related questions can call the PUCO’s Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or visit www.PUCO.ohio.gov
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.