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Polar Vortex Sends Life-Threatening Freeze To US 684

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-bit-chilly dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that the Midwestern United States is shivering through the region's lowest temperatures in twenty years as forecasters warn that life-threatening cold is heading eastward as a polar vortex of freezing Arctic weather sweeps across the United States. 'The coldest temperatures in almost two decades will spread into the northern and central U.S. today behind an arctic cold front,' says the National Weather Service. 'Combined with gusty winds, these temperatures will result in life-threatening wind chill values as low as 60 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit/minus 51 degrees Celsius).' The coldest temperature reported in the lower 48 states on Sunday was minus 40 F (-40 C) in the towns of Babbitt and Embarrass, Minnesota. Meteorologists warn that the wind-chill factor could make it feel twice as cold, causing frostbite to exposed parts of the body within minutes. Eleven people have already died in weather-related incidents in the past week, including a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who wandered from her home in upstate New York and was found frozen to death only 100m away. Polar vortexes occur seasonally at the North Pole, and their formation resembles that of hurricanes in more tropical regions: fast-moving winds build up around a calm center. Unlike a hurricane, these are frigid polar winds, circling the Arctic at more than 100 miles per hour. The spinning winds typically trap this cold air in the Arctic. But the problem comes when the polar vortex weakens or splits apart, essentially flinging these cold wind patterns out of the Arctic and into our backyards. 'All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak,' says meteorologist Ryan Maue. 'If you're under 40, you've not seen this stuff before.'"
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Polar Vortex Sends Life-Threatening Freeze To US

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  • Under 40 (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:20AM (#45877933)

    Under 40, live in Minnesota...seen it before.

    Sensational hype. Thank god for global warming.

  • In which units? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe Random (777564) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:25AM (#45877999)

    Meteorologists warn that the wind-chill factor could make it feel twice as cold

    What the hell does "twice as cold" even mean? If it's intended to mean "double the negative distance from zero", then it's unit-dependent. The same with "half the temperature". Just give an actual temperature, instead of using vagary in an attempt to impress people with how cold it's doing to be.

  • It's called WINTER (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ka9dgx (72702) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:26AM (#45878005) Homepage Journal

    This is a REAL Chicago winter... you kids have all gotten soft in the last 30 years. We used to have these all the time when I was a kid. I remember in about 1980, it had been this cold for sever days in a row so I had sever cabin fever (a condition resulting in the need to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE)... so I walked 1.2 miles in -40 temperatures to get to Montgomery Wards. (I just checked the distance using google maps) That's -40 REAL degrees (trivia: -40F == -40C), or -80F with the "Wind Chill".... I was very glad my dad came to pick me up and take me home, so I didn't need to make the return trip on foot.

    Two pairs of jeans (the thick kind we used to have back then) were barely enough to keep my legs warm during that walk.

    We've had these before, we'll have them again... shove off with the invented names like "Polar Vortex"... it's just WINTER. /rant

    PS: Maybe it's cabin fever getting to me? ;-)

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:33AM (#45878095)

    I'm fine with the idea that climate and weather are different things. But where are all of you to point this out when idiots get on TV and try to claim that the latest big hurricane was "exacerbated by global warming"? You can't have it both ways.

  • by Bugler412 (2610815) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:46AM (#45878219)
    This ridiculous storm naming habit needs to stop! It's winter, sometimes it's cold and snowy, sometimes it's REALLY cold and snowy. I guess the next storm will be called "Winter Storm Anus Ripper" eh?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:47AM (#45878229)

    ugh. your angry ignorance is overwhelming. global warming is happening, meaning the MEAN (ie, average) global temperatures are rising. what this causes is (among other things) temperature and climate swings in any particular region are likely to become much more severe. (noticed any patterns lately of 'rare' storms happening frequently?)

    PART of the reason for calling it climate change (aside from the fact that the issue is bigger than just things getting warmer) is to change the semantics so dolts like you wouldn't look out the window and say 'gee zeke, aint no warmer here! all is good y'all! pop me another brewskie! here come's honey boo boo! " apparently, it didn't work as you so clearly display. someone intent on keeping their head buried up their ass will fight tooth and nail to do so.

  • by Splab (574204) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:48AM (#45878255)

    Show us where we can correct those idiots - Global waming is such a stupid word to use, because people who wants to argue with you will focus on that single word.

    Doesn't matter if you had a billion scientists saying something different, there is a single word that the other person can attach to and argue against, which means you will have lost.

    Global climate change is a much better wording - you can even add a small star "due to global temperature average climbing".

  • by ApplePy (2703131) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:51AM (#45878285)

    Climate != Weather

    Totally, right?

    Because all the kerfuffle here in the Rocky Mountain West the last decade has been hot summers and drought -- AS PROOF -- of global warming. It's in the papers here as soon as the temperature goes over 90F. Warming, warming, warming, we're all gonna die.

    Well, since Climate != Weather, why can't I say that the hot dry summers are proof of global cooling? After all, it's perfectly reputable, apparently, to say that -40F winter wind chill is proof of warming!

    I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it:

    Some of us already know what we should be doing. We should be building topsoil, planting trees, building alternative energy supplies, cleaning the air, cleaning the water, greening the deserts; in short, taking the simple steps to making Earth a little better.

    (Adding something like 1" of topsoil to America's farm land would sequester more CO2 than man has ever emitted, IIRC, and we could actually do that simultaneously with growing bio-fuels...!)

    AGW (whether true or false) is just something for people to argue about while governments and corporations make the biggest power grab in the history of power grabs. Divide and conquer at work.

  • by ericloewe (2129490) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:53AM (#45878309)

    I love it when idiots pick a single point of data and call it a trend.

    You could also try:

    "This glorified network cable costs 10 grand! Network cables are getting insanely expensive!"
    or
    "That airplane crashed! Air travel is getting more dangerous by the minute!"
    or
    "I used to buy only laptops, but now I build my own desktops. The desktop market is on the rise!"

  • by NatasRevol (731260) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:56AM (#45878351) Journal

    Unfortunately, we're just going to use even more natural resources to say warm.

  • Blah blah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Akratist (1080775) on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:00PM (#45878399)
    Looking at a chart for this part of the Midwest, there have been plenty of days this cold, if not significantly colder. The real problem here is crappy reporting, short memories, an ignorance of historical data, and general sensationalism. The big laugher is in last sentence of the last linked article: "Brutal conditions are expected in Detroit, which has had only five days in living memory when temperatures stayed below freezing all day." Really? No one knows the difference between 0 degree F and freezing? Between this kind of sloppy reporting and naming winter storms, the public interest in meteorology is going to taper off even further, once we all get through this and it gets back into the 40s by the end of the week. When weather news then becomes marginalized, people pay even less attention to the realities of climate change and other issues...maybe that's the point, I don't know.
  • Or it will trigger (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:02PM (#45878417) Homepage

    Global Warming alarmists who don't know what they're talking about to deride folks who do, for pointing to a weather event....just like Global Warming alarmists do EVERY SINGLE hurricane, drought, flood, tornado and earthquake.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:05PM (#45878461)

    But where are all of you to point this out when idiots get on TV and try to claim that the latest big hurricane was "exacerbated by global warming"?

    I obviously can't speak for every Slashdotter who thinks that the scientific consensus is probably correct, but I know it pisses me off when they do that.

  • by impossiblefork (978205) on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:15PM (#45878569)
    The AC is making a serious error here and it almost seems as if though he imagines the US to be the entire world even weather-wise.

    Meanwhile, here in Europe we have weather so unusually warm that it's almost unnatural. I live in Sweden and this time of year I can usually do such things as skate, ski cross country and engage other snow-requiring activities. However, today it's been six degrees Celsius and I'm seriously considering taking a short drive with the top down tomorrow provided that it's sunny.

    This is of course kind of anecdotal but actual data (http://www.smhi.se/klimatdata/meteorologi/2.1353/showImg.php?par=tmpAvv) demonstrates the same thing. About five degrees warmer than the normal temperatures and probably much warmer during the warmest part of the day.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:30PM (#45878723)

    Oh I get it, Global warming is the energy that moves the weather. So if it gets hotter or colder this summer it is global warming. If it is warmer or colder this winter it is global warming. If there are more or fewer tornado's or stronger / weaker hurricanes. It is all global warming.

    So all weather events are proof of global warming no matter what way they go. Great logic!

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:47PM (#45878901)

    Yes, I have missed them. Please do enlighten me! Maybe I'm a bit odd, but my threshold for "climate scientist" is quite high. I feel like you need to be involved in the construction and testing of climate models in order to call yourself a climate scientist. At the very least, you need to be in the data collection end of things.

    Also, while I wish people pushing for reduced carbon emission well and hope they succeed, I don't think that they will. I think the efforts are wasted - people will probably use most of the world's fossil fuels as long as they are the cheapest way to get energy. Perhaps technology will save us, but barring that we should probably be putting money into mitigation efforts. There should be some centralized effort to cope with the effects of global warming: Do we continue to rebuild low-lying areas? Do we build sea walls? Do we pump cooling material into the atmosphere? And so on.

  • As a Canadian... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kinthelt (96845) on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:53PM (#45878977) Homepage

    Suck it up, princesses.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Monday January 06, 2014 @01:20PM (#45879311)

    Global Warming alarmists who don't know what they're talking about to deride folks who do, for pointing to a weather event....just like Global Warming alarmists do EVERY SINGLE hurricane, drought, flood, tornado and earthquake.

    That doesn't change the fact that a pattern of weather events (hot or cold) is an indicator of climate change. Understanding that, it is fair to deride anyone who observes isolated events (hot or cold) and then makes pronouncements about climate change.

  • Repeat After Me! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rabtech (223758) on Monday January 06, 2014 @01:26PM (#45879387) Homepage

    Repeat After Me: No single weather event can be said to be proof or refutation of Global Climate Change.

    All Global Climate Change says is that as the *average* global temperature increases the traditional weather patterns we have become accustomed to will change in unpredictable ways. Some areas may see colder winters, others warmer. Some areas will see increased rain, others will become deserts. In fact some places may have hotter, drier summers yet colder wetter winters. The problems come from the fact that we've put farms and cities in certain locations with the expectation that the weather would be stable over the long term.

    You can't say any one hurricane is proof of global climate change any more than you can say any one cold winter refutes global climate change.

  • by Mabhatter (126906) on Monday January 06, 2014 @01:34PM (#45879497)

    And Viking settlements from the 100AD range show they grew crops similar to much further south... Crops that its still not WARM enough for where you live.

    The problem is not whether climate will change, it is the changes in available natural resources that go with it. When that Roman warm period ended about 400AD it pushed the north men south, and set the Vikings to sea because farming slowly became unproductive.

    The North America has little history of 500+ years ago. So how are things going to change for PEOPLE... In much of the Midwest we've been dealing with multiple years of drought... And even these mega storms aren't dropping ENOUGH snow to fix it. On the other hand, the droughts cause flooding and mudslides when the rains do come because HUMANS have changed the landscape over 200 years.

    One way or another these changes will effect PEOPLE, and sitting in Arizona hiding behind your AC is only going to last so long before RESOURCES have to be reallocated for another 50-100 years DIFFERENTLY than they are now.

    This is where Capitalism conflicts with running a nation properly. National economists are about making the COUNTRY operate efficiently.... Capitalists are about taking those identified weaknesses and PROFITING from making them WORSE.... Which is why they hate the push for addressing climate change/global warming because that means we're addressing DEMAND before a profitable crisis occurs.

  • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Monday January 06, 2014 @01:59PM (#45879753)

    Unfortunately, we're just going to use even more natural resources to say warm.

    A true environmentalist would freeze to death to save the environment.

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