Freezing Temperatures Hit US; 'Polar Vortex' To Bring Cold That Causes Frostbite in Minutes

Jan 04, 2014 11:04 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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People around the country and especially in the Midwest should stay bundled up as historic cold temperatures sweep the country.

Beginning Sunday, rare tundra-like temperatures will hit the Midwest, breaking below-zero records, The Associated Press reported.

"All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak," Ryan Maue, of Tallahassee, Fla., a meteorologist for Weather Bell, told the AP. "If you're under 40 (years old), you've not seen this stuff before."

That "stuff" includes what Maue calls a "polar vortex" that will rush cold air from the North Pole down to the United States, reaching as far as the Gulf Coast.

The predicted temperatures, which include 25 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 31 in International Falls, Minn., and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago, can cause frostbite within minutes, according to the AP. With wind chills possibly at 50, 60 or 70 below zero, people can quickly get hypothermia.

The freeze is expected to continue into early next week after starting on Sunday. The cold will go through some of New England as well, which was already recently hit by a snowstorm.

"This one happens to be really big and it's going to dive deep into the continental U.S. And all that cold air is going to come with it," Sally Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, told the AP.

Cold temperatures will even reach typically warmer parts of the country such as Atlanta, where temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s on Tuesday.

In Minnesota, school has already been canceled statewide for Monday, something that hasn't happened in 17 years, due to predicted temperatures of as low as -30 degrees.

The cold spell should just last a few days, but it will probably freeze over the Great Lakes as well as other bodies of water, which means that cold temperatures should last all season, Maue told the AP.

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