Look on the bright side. No icenadoes.

'Polar Vortex' is our newest label for icy doom

Todd Dorman
Published: January 7 2014 | 6:26 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:44 am in

So how’s the “polar vortex” treating you?

That, according to a multitude of media outlets, is what we are experiencing here in the great Middle West, and beyond. A chunk of swirling North Pole air slipped southward and vortexed all over us. Makes me nostalgic for flash droughts.

NBC’s Al Roker called it a “polar hurricane.” I say “brricane” fits better.

Polar vortex sounds dramatic, but is it true?

“It’s accurate,” said David Cousins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities. He said the “vortex” is an area of upper-level arctic low pressure plowing farther south than usual. Normally, these things spin toward Hudson Bay. This time, it came for us. “This is probably the coldest air we’ve seen since 1996,” he said.

Our dog, Scuttle, who broke a land speed record doing his outdoor business Monday morning, agrees.

Also acting swiftly in the face of this vortexian onslaught, media types bravely unpacked their adjectives — brutal, biting, frostbitten, dangerous, bitter, extreme, frigid, frozen, sub zero, polar and arctic all made the icy cut. Then came the horrid hyphens of hypothermia — life-threatening, bone-chilling, record-breaking and tundra-like, to name a few. A piece on USA Today’s website deployed both “freaking” and “stinking” to describe cold.

Verbs offered our only hope for survival — hunkering, bracing, coping, sheltering, beefing up and bundling. Another verb that might have crossed a few Iowa minds was “moving.”

Instead, we don our chunky Midwestern snow boots and trudge unbowed through the vexing vortex.

It’s crazy cold. But we’re pretty sure we’ve seen this before. Indeed, State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says the wind chill in Cedar Rapids hit minus 52 on Jan. 15, 2009, the same day the city set its record low at minus 29.

It could be worse. At least “icenadoes” don’t exist. Yet.

And just think of those poor, frozen southerners. The forecast low last night in Atlanta was 8 degrees, with 14 expected in Mobile, Ala. The weather service there described the cold wave as “pipe-bursting.” We feel for you, until it hits 63 in Mobile on Friday.

We also know there’s a light at the end of our tundra. And no, it’s not a sun dog.

We’re gaining daylight daily, and it’s only 72 days until the spring equinox. Pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training Feb. 12.

Oh, and it’s supposed to be 33 degrees on Saturday. Balmy.


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