Polar Vortex to unleash fierce, Siberian cold in Midwest during early February

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 04, 2018, 1:13:33 PM EST

A couple of shots of dangerously cold, Siberian air will plunge into the north-central United States thanks to a shift of the Polar Vortex during early February.

Temperatures will challenge the lowest of the season thus far.

"While the worst of these frigid air masses are likely to stop short of the northern U.S. border and prevent records from being set, the waves of cold air taking aim at the northern Plains to the Upper Midwest may still rival that of early January," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Temperatures over much of the North Central states will average 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit below normal.

Daytime highs will be in the single digits for a number of days and may struggle to reach zero in some locations over the northern tier of the Central states. Nighttime temperatures will dip well below zero most nights.

rounds of arctic air 2/4

There is the potential for temperatures to dip even lower where there is snowcover, clear skies overhead and diminishing winds at night.

Episodes of wind and other conditions will cause AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures to plunge well below zero. At this level, frostbite may occur in a matter of minutes on exposed skin.

In a few cases over the northern Plains and Upper Midwest, RealFeel Temperatures may dive as low as minus 30 over the next couple of weeks.

People walking to work or school or waiting outside sports venues, such as Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis, should dress in layers to avoid the risk of hypothermia.

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Chicago and Detroit are likely to remain south of the brunt of the frigid air. However, high temperatures are forecast to range from the middle teens to the middle 20s most days. The average high for early February is in the lower to middle 30s.

Vacant homes and public buildings that are unattended during the weekends should be prepped for severe cold to avoid the risk of burst pipes. The best defense may be to turn off the water main and/or leave the heat on.

Cabinet doors should be left open where plumbing is within or adjacent to outside walls. A few ceiling tiles can be removed to allow warm air to circulate around plumbing.

The frigid weather will allow ice to increase and thicken on area streams and rivers, which may lead to ice jams later in the winter or early in the spring.

Harsh cold, but not winter's worse in the Northeast, interior South

Waves of arctic cold will penetrate into the central Plains, Ohio Valley and the Northeast. In this swath, back-and-forth swings in temperature are likely, due to an active storm track.

"A lobe of the Polar Vortex would have to shift much farther south for persistent severe cold to reach more of the Ohio Valley and coastal Northeast," according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

The Deep South is likely to be spared arctic air most days over the next couple of weeks.

Midweek outlook 2/4

Daytime highs in Atlanta are likely to be in the 50s most days. The average high for early February is in the middle 50s.

There may be a couple of instances where freezing air approaches the Interstate 10 corridor at night.

Toward the middle of the month, there are signs of a northward shift in the Polar Vortex, which may allow milder Pacific air to sweep across the North Central and Northeast states for a brief period.

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