Polar vortex shuts down Midwest

Cold causes Xavier to close on Wednesday, delay class on Thursday and Friday

Photo courtesy of Flickr | Temperatures dropped to sub-zero levels last week as the Midwest experienced a polar vortex. There were wind chills reported as low as -55 degrees, and places like Chicago were colder than both Siberia and Antarctica.

Last week, the Midwest was hit with frigid temperatures and wind chills caused by the front of a polar vortex. Some of the coldest wind chills were reported at -55 degrees in Minnesota and -51 degrees in Chicago.

A polar vortex is a widespread area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the earth’s poles.

The system is linked to at least 21 deaths throughout the country. The brutal temperatures caused the closing of schools, businesses, government buildings and grounded flights. Temperatures in the U.S. dropped to the lowest in more than 30 years.

Many records were broken and several areas declared state of emergency in wake of the vortex.

The dangerously cold temperatures extended further south. Georgia and Florida witnessed less extreme, but noticeable drops in temperature.

The polar vortex caused a full closure of Xavier on Jan. 30 and early morning closures on the Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. 

First-year business undecided major Eric Ernst described the cold as bearable but said he “wouldn’t stay outside for very long.” Although offices were closed and classes were canceled, the caf remained open. As long as he didn’t linger outside and went straight to where he was supposed to go, it was fine Ernst added.

The cold didn’t last for long. Temperatures started to rapidly rise over the weekend.

“It was really nice to walk out of my room and realize I needed sunglasses instead of my winter coat,” Ernst said.

Students took advantage of the warm weather on Sunday afternoon.

“There were people playing games out in the yard (on Sunday). I got to do some of my homework outside because it was so nice,” Ernst said.

After seeing the campus on Sunday, no one would expect the bitter cold of the days before to return.

Though many of Ernst’s assignments were pushed back, he didn’t think that the closing caused any major problems with his classes. Since closures were short, it is not expected to cause problems with academics or university proceedings.

Ernst did however experience problems with his package delivery. At least 10 states halted the delivery of mail last Wednesday, including Ohio.

“I had a package that was guaranteed to come in three days, but it was delayed by the weather,” he said.

Some areas are worried that the abnormally warm weather after the polar vortex could cause problems. These include water main breaks, crumbling roads and flooded streets.

The homeless community was wracked by the cold. Homeless shelters became overcrowded and unable to take more people in. Some governments allotted food, shelter and blankets to counteract the effects.

Temperatures are forecasted to be the polar opposite this week. Highs this week are expected to be in the 40s-60s. This is a more than 60-degree difference from the 20-below- zero temperatures recorded last week. Temperatures are expected to drop again next week.

By: Sierra Ross | Staff Writer