MIAMI COUNTY — Wind chill values will drop to dangerously cold levels Wednesday and Thursday this week, prompting the National Weather Service to issue weather advisories for the Miami Valley.
According to the National Weather Service’s office in Wilmington, the Miami Valley can expect wind chills as low as 35 degrees below zero as a result of an Arctic front moving through the region. A wind chill warning is in effect until Thursday afternoon.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Hickman explained that wind chill is an apparent temperature that affects living things.
“You have a layer of heat around your body and when you expose that to the air with the wind blowing, it pulls that heat away from the body. That causes you to cool down faster,” he said. “The time it takes for frostbite or hypothermia to set in will vary with the severity of the wind chill.”
Hickman advised people to bundle up in layers and cover up as much skin as possible before going outside for the next few days. Such cold wind chills can cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
“If you have to venture out, try to cover all exposed skin. It’s good to have something to cover your mouth and your face,” he said.
Projected temperatures caused some local schools to announce Tuesday that they would be closing Wednesday.
“A delay simply will not help. The forecast remains pretty consistent so there is no use in waiting until tomorrow,” Piqua City Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson said Tuesday.
Bethel Local Schools and Newton Local Schools announced that they will be closed Wednesday. As of press time, other districts in the county had not yet announced closures.
Bradford Schools also announced a central location for bus pick-up during two-hour delays. A bus will pick students up between 9:35-9:45 a.m. close to the corner of Church Street and Miami Avenue, near the United Methodist Church.
When two-hour delays are announced through the One Call Now system and social media, the district will also put out a reminder of the central bus stop.
Across the country
Wind chills in northern Illinois could fall to negative 55 degrees (negative 48 degrees Celsius), which the National Weather Service called “possibly life threatening.” Minnesota temperatures could hit minus 30 degrees (negative 34 degrees Celsius) with a wind chill of negative 60 (negative 51 degrees Celsius).
The potentially record-breaking low temperature forecast in Milwaukee is negative 28 degrees (negative 33 degrees Celsius), with a wind chill as low as negative 50 (negative 45 degrees Celsius). The current record of minus 26 degrees (negative 32 degrees Celsius) was set in 1996.
“That’s 40 degrees below normal,” Hurley said. “When you think about it in that sense, that’s a big ‘whoa.’”
Cold weather advisories are in effect across a broad swath of the central U.S., from North Dakota to Missouri and spanning into Ohio. Temperatures will be as many as 20 degrees below average in parts of the Upper Great Lakes region and Upper Mississippi Valley, according to the National Weather Service.
The unusually frigid weather is attributed to a sudden warming way above the North Pole. A sudden blast of warm air from misplaced Moroccan heat last month made the normally super chilly air temperatures 20 miles (32 kilometers) above the North Pole rapidly rise about 125 degrees (70 degrees Celsius). That split the polar vortex into pieces, which then started to wander, according to Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research, a commercial firm outside Boston. One of those polar vortex pieces is responsible for the sub-zero temperatures across the Midwest this week.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged residents to check on their neighbors and take safety precautions. He said city agencies are making sure homeless people are in shelters or offered space in warming buses.
Hundreds of schools were closed across Michigan as road conditions deteriorated, including Eastern Michigan University. The largest public school districts in Wisconsin and Minnesota also were among those closed, including districts in Milwaukee and St. Paul. Minneapolis Public Schools announced there would be no classes through Wednesday. The cold also prompted officials to close some schools in eastern Iowa, while Chicago Public Schools officials said they were monitoring the weather ahead of Wednesday’s cold snap.
— AP contributed to this story