As a bad weather geek and a one-time denizen of midwestern America, I’ve been paying close attention to the polar vortex that today is turning the nation’s heartland into a temporary imitation of Antarctica. During winter months, folks in the Midwest become accustomed to the occasional “snow day,” whereby heavy snowfalls compel the closure of schools, businesses, and some public services. But closing down for a polar vortex is quite another thing.
Reporting for the New York Times, Kate Taylor explains some of the major ramifications of this weather. Here are her takeaway points:
- “The Midwest will be colder on Wednesday than parts of Antarctica and Alaska”
- “More than 50 million people will be affected”
- “You could get frostbite in five minutes”
- “The last time Chicago faced temperatures this low was more than 30 years ago”
- “Thousands of flights are being canceled”
- “Hundreds of schools are being closed”
- “Hundreds of thousands of college students will be hunkering down”
Of course, the world of work is profoundly affected by this onslaught of sub-zero weather. With schools closing, parents’ work schedules will be thrown into disarray — assuming that their respective workplaces aren’t closing as well. Many public employees are being instructed to stay home. Even mail delivery has been suspended in areas expecting the coldest temperatures. I’m sure a lot of private businesses are shutting down today as well. And for those who have work-related air travel planned, well, this could be a frustrating day to be flying.
If you are in America’s central states right now, I hope you’re reading this from a warm place. It’s a good day to attend to indoor tasks and chores, perhaps to work from home if you have a job with that kind of flexibility, or simply to get caught up on a favorite television show or movie (or two).