Polar vortex freezes the Midwest


Auden Hattendorf

A bedroom window freezing up due to the Polar Vortex

Auden Hattendorf, Staff Writer

All of the people wishing for colder weather got their wishes granted on Wednesday, Jan. 30 when the temperatures chiseled down to -60 degrees in windchill according to the National Weather Service. The temperature was record-breaking in a way that nobody ever wished it would be. Governor J.B. Pritzker had issued a disaster proclamation which is, in short, a state of emergency.

While all schools in the surrounding area were closed amidst this heart-stopping cold, some businesses still tried to keep their doors open despite the warnings, and employees were having to choose between being reprimanded by their employers or the winter’s wrath. Chicagoans were repeatedly encouraged not to go outdoors during this arctic blast, but some simply had no choice.

“I had to work today because I work at a nursing home, so obviously we never close,” said ECC student, Elizabeth DiGrazia. “Some of my coworkers went out to run their cars during their breaks to try to prevent their car batteries [from] dying.”

And for some, getting to work in this cold is too much to ask from their cars.

“My friend’s car isn’t starting,” said Alex Perteete, another ECC student. “We had to use the jumper cable.”

For those who did face the option of leaving their warm houses, the sights they reported were devastating. While some cars didn’t start at all, some delivered a false promise by chugging to life only to break down on the side of the road and leave the driver to face the cold alone.

“I made it,” said School District U-46 employee, Sally Stannard after her dangerous drive to work. “Three semis and a couple cars broke down. Do not go out.”

As a janitorial employee of U-46, during snowy weather, Stannard is expected to shovel sidewalks and around entrances to her building. But during the Antarctic freeze, she tells of a frightening crisis that she managed to avert.

“I almost passed out yesterday in the cold,” Stannard said. “It was scary. No one would’ve found me until probably two hours later, frozen outside behind the school trying to shovel.”

All around the Chicagoland area, the worst-case scenario happened to those trying to take shelter in their homes – the power went out. Thousands were left without power during this second ice age, although none were without it for very long. ComEd got most of the power up and running again within the hour. Within the time the power was absent, people ran their fireplaces and lit a plethora of candles to try and harness some warmth.

An arctic blast like this has never been seen in Illinois, and it raises a question about the climate we’re living in, as well as what can be done to reverse the damage.