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Weather Alert Day: Dangerously cold through AM Thu

The ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather Team continues the Weather Alert Day for bitterly cold air that will bring dangerous conditions tonight through this morning. Also, some roads could be slick due to the light snow that fell late Wednesday.

This morning temperatures have dropped into the single digits with areas north of I-70 at zero or below. The wind will be lighter but will still generate bitterly cold wind chills as low as -12 through early Thursday morning.

Fortunately, we’ll start warming up Thursday and stay in a milder weather pattern through the weekend. The Weather Alert Day will expire at 8 AM Thursday as temperatures start to warm up.

Below is an explanation of where this bitterly cold air came from and how to protect yourself if heading outdoors.

You may have heard the term polar vortex used numerous times through the years and before you read any inaccurate information, lets get down to what it is and what it isn’t.

The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold that is situated at both poles. It is comprised of not only cold, but swirling winds in the upper atmosphere that is typically stronger in the winter months. During winter, the polar vortex expands or grows, typically sending cold air southward.

When the right ingredients come into play, the polar vortex can become dislodged, leading to record cold spilling into the lower 48. Historical records show this has happened numerous times in the past, but is happening more frequently. Events like this cause many to throw around the word polar vortex, which causes the meaning to get lost in translation. While the Midwest will be dealing with record breaking cold over the next few days, it’s not the polar vortex but instead a piece of it.

Winter weather and temperatures in the single digits and below can pose a risk to both people and animals.

To minimize that risk, there are things you can do during a winter weather event. These include:

– Layering on the clothes. It’s recommended that you wear at least three layers. A base layer to wick sweat off your skin, a middle layer to retain body heat, and an outer layer that shields you from the wind.

– In addition to clothes, you should cover up any exposed skin to prevent frostbite.

– Always have a winter car survival kit, in case you get stranded in an accident or without gas.

– Fill up the gas tank, so that you can stay warm if you do become stranded. Then when the gas runs out if help hasn’t arrived you can turn to the winter car survival kit.

Watch ABC 17 news for updates on these bitterly cold temperatures and check back here for updates.

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