This week brought weather chaos to the Midwest, as a polar vortex pulled icy Arctic air down to chill the country.
During the worst of the cold front, 200 million Americans endured freezing temperatures as low as -26°, at least 21 people died, and thousands of flights were cancelled or delayed.
Ironically, temperatures were warmer in Alaska (even north of the Arctic Circle) than in iced-over cities like Chicago and Minneapolis.
One hospital in Chicago alone treated more than 50 people for frostbite.
But as temperatures finally lift over the weekend, the dramatic change in temperatures could cause even more headaches. The deadly cold front will continue to move east over the next few days, causing huge swings from freezing to mild that will thaw out the Midwest a little too quickly.
In the Twin Cities, temperatures could whip from -25° to 45° in just a few days, before dropping to -10° midweek, according to the National Weather Service. That’s a 125-degree shift back and forth in less than a week.
In chilly Chicago, the thermometer will jump to the 50s – well above average – by Monday, and Atlanta will be sunny at 60 on Super Bowl Sunday.
The wildly wobbling temperatures could mean flooding for parts of the country, especially as snow is set to fall on several states before they heat back up.
People in cities that are not used to icy conditions are warned to look out for falling icicles and other hazards, including fresh potholes left by ice and rising riverbanks.
While the adjustment could be difficult, not many people will miss the cold after at least 160 record lows were set throughout the Midwest and Northeast in recent days.
The polar vortex blew through the Northeast as the week ended, but the cold will soon be gone… before returning in the middle of next week.
Today will be another freezing cold day in New York City — the high will only be 24 degrees! Be sure to stay indoors and wear warm, weather-appropriate clothing if you must be outside. If you see someone without shelter call 311 immediately. pic.twitter.com/68CqFULBXp
— NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) February 1, 2019
While there’s a chance the polar vortex currently working its way up through the Northeast and Canada could return before spring, meteorologists say it won’t be as intense if it returns in a few weeks.