Okay, here’s a joke that my dad told me when I was a kid:
“Jerry, have you ever heard about the kee-kee bird? It lives at the North Pole.”
“No, dad. Why do they call it that?”
“Because it sits up there on the ice and calls, “kee-kee-kee-kee-RIST it’s cold!”
I’ll be here all week folks, but it has been wicked cold in the eastern US these past few days. Chicago has been particularly brutal.
[Note: I've taken down the worldwide climate map from yesterday because, as one reader pointed out, the Fahrenheit and Centigrade equivalency scales were so off that I couldn't discern the temperatures.]
Several readers sent me links to some HuffPo pictures of Chicago (where the temperature with windchill dipped to -40º, both C and F, this week), as well as photos from other sites. I can’t say I’m sorry I wasn’t there: it’s a balmy 10º C (50F) in Dobrzyn. On second thought, I wish I had been there—to take my own photos.
Ice in the lake! We don’t see this every year. Can’t you just see the cold from that plane?
How cold was it in the Midwest? Colder than on some parts of Mars! Yahoo News reports this:
The town of Embarrass, Minnesota, recorded the lowest temperature in the United States Tuesday at a frigid -37 Celsius (-35 Fahrenheit).
Then there was the wind chill: a calculation that represents how much colder it feels when the blinding gusts hit you in the face.
That dipped as low as -52 Celsius in Montana and was in the -40 to -50 Celsius range in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
That’s cold enough to toss a cup of boiling water into the air and watch it turn into snow before it hits the ground.
The Mars Rover has been sending back daily temperature readings from its tour of the Red Planet ranging from -25 to -31 degrees Celsius (-13 and -24 degrees Fahrenheit).
“To be fair, though, Mars is still way colder,” the Smithsonian Institute wrote in a blog post. “The Curiosity rover is driving around in a crater at, roughly, the equivalent latitude of Venezuela.”
What happened? It was a “polar vortex,” as explained by CNN:
What is a polar vortex? What distinguishes it?
The polar vortex, as it sounds, is circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise direction — a polar low-pressure system. These winds tend to keep the bitter cold air locked in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is not a single storm. On occasion, this vortex can become distorted and dip much farther south than you would normally find it, allowing cold air to spill southward.
This is the Michigan Avenue Bridge, which I cross regularly. The Chicago River is throwing off steam in the bitter cold:
Two more photos (by Isaac Silver) from the Mother Nature Network:
An iceberg in Lake Michigan!
This is Chicago, not Antarctica, for crying out loud!
Finally, from Google Earth’s Twi**er feed, the shadows of the skyline on the frozen lake: