If they didn’t know before this week, millions of Midwesterners now know what the term “polar vortex” means.
Cold air the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Southwest Wisconsin in 20 years descended on Southwest Wisconsin earlier this week, resulting in what the National Weather Service called “life-threatening cold air” — temperatures in the double digits below zero and wind chills predicted as low as 60 below zero, prompting the NWS to issue a Wind Chill Warning from Sunday evening until Tuesday noon.
Platteville, Iowa–Grant, Belmont and Potosi schools canceled classes and after-school activities Monday and Tuesday. The four school districts have each called off three days of classes so far this year, the first time Dec. 20 from the ice storm.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College closed all its facilities Monday. UW–Platteville kept facilities open and conducted winterim classes.
The Platteville Senior Center and Grant County Aging and Disability Resource Center meal sites were closed Monday and Tuesday. Faherty Inc. didn’t collect garbage or recycling Monday. The American Red Cross blood drive at Platteville United Methodist Church Monday afternoon was canceled.
The lack of heat created a lack of heating problem at the Platteville Public Library Monday, forcing it to close early.
Temperatures dropped below zero late Sunday afternoon, reached a low of 21 below zero early Monday morning — just missing the all-time record for Jan. 6 of 23 below zero, set in 1970 and equaled in 1998 — and struggled to reach a high of 11 below Monday. The wind chill was reported at 47 below zero in Platteville around 9 a.m., and wind chills below 40 below zero were reported elsewhere in Southwest Wisconsin.
Lows in Southwest Wisconsin early Monday ranged from 22 below zero in Dodgeville to 17 below zero in Lone Rock. Lows early Tuesday ranged from 23 below zero in Dodgeville to 15 below zero in Boscobel and Platteville.
With slower winds Tuesday morning, wind chills were reported in the 20s to 30 below zero.
Several fires were reported in Grant County over the weekend, including a car fire and a barn fire Sunday, and two house fires that appeared to have started in efforts to thaw freezing pipes.
Proving that the only constant thing about Wisconsin weather is change: Temperatures are forecasted to gradually increase to the 30s by the weekend. That’s above zero.