Cold, cruel and counterclockwise arctic air traveled from the North Pole to the middle of the United States this past month, bringing more awareness to the negative temperatures caused by a dreaded polar vortex. 

The New York Times reported that forecasters in Chicago predicted high temperatures to be minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 30. An expected low of minus 22 was expected to approach, though not surpass, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago. 

In Plattsburgh, winter has arrived, but local temperatures seem to remain constant in accordance with normal patterns. 

Plattsburgh State Associate Professor of Environmental Science Eric Leibensperger said Plattsburgh winter are intense with cold temperatures and a good amount of snowfall. 

 

“On average, Plattsburgh is cooler than New York City by about 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and cooler than Albany by 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit,” Leibensperger said. “The lake-effect snow bands influencing most of the western side of the North Country and the Finger Lakes region have a smaller impact on Plattsburgh, but it does receive about 80 inches of snow each year.”

 

NBC News reported that accounts about the polar vortex and other weather events focus on the here and now. But climate scientists study patterns over decades, centuries, even millennia. And scientists said the data clearly show long-term temperature increases on Earth.

 

Leibensperger said on average, climate change has been causing warmer winters through the northeast United States, and there have been increases in the fluctuations of the jet streams of the polar vortex which causes cold air to travel southward.

 

“This is what happened earlier this week and caused the Midwest to become so cold,” Leibensperger said. “It’s currently thought that such events are tied to the weakening of the jet stream, an impact of climate change.”

  

As a result, everyone is at risk of serious frostbite. According to the Burlington Free Press, a University of Vermont student, Connor Gage, was found dead on Feb. 4. The authorities believe that the sub-zero temperatures and Gage’s inadequate clothing, consisting of a coat wrapped around his waist, may have contributed to his death.

        

PSUC junior nursing major Katelyn Mcglauflin advises students to bundle up and wear a lot of layers when going outside or walking around campus.        

“Especially making sure your hands, feet, ears, and nose are covered as those areas are more prone to frostbite,” Mcglauflin said. “Keep the area affected by frostbite covered and warm. Seek medical attention.”  

As the polar vortex continues, snowstorm related crashes are also common this time of year. The Washington Post reported that Missouri took the brunt of the damage, logging more than 800 snow-related crashes that injured 57 and killed four, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

According to the National Safety Council, a mechanic should check vehicle systems conditions before the winter season, including a car’s tire wear and air pressure, ignition, brakes, wiring and battery. 

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