The much-ballyhooed, headline-topping, record-setting blast of arctic air has arrived. And while this may seem just as cold as the jab of bitter air last week, it had a little more flair with the mini-blizzard squalls that zipped through town Wednesday afternoon.
Whiteouts were common as this rare winter "treat" ushered in the bitter air. Temperatures were dropping quickly as the winds gusted over 40 mph at times. Wind chills were already in the single digits below zero. As the cold continues to bear down, the numbers get even more numbing toward morning. Expect dangerous levels of cold with wind chills as low as 20-25 below zero by the crack of dawn.
Mercifully, the winds back off in the afternoon, just as the coldest part of this polar vortex shifts out over the fish. It's this fact, combined with the slight moderation in the airmass, that allows us to see highs level off in the low 10s — a virtual sauna compared to the -15 degree "high" in Chicago today.
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A plain winter day is on tap for Friday. High temps keep the steady trend upward into the weekend, as well. We will not only crack freezing, but also could see a major thaw into next week that sees high temperatures climb to the 50s.