Polar Vortex to grip the nation in severe cold

By Amy Cherry 1:00pm, January 6, 2014 - Updated 7:11pm, January 6, 2014
Graphic courtesy of AccuWeather.
A blast of arctic air is going to freeze us with record low temperatures.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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AccuWeather's Dr. Joe Sobel says this will be some of the coldest air we've ever experienced.

"The record low is 10, and we'll be in the single digits and with the wind that AccuWeather Real Feel temperature Tuesday morning around 20 below zero," says Sobel.

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Temperatures will drop rapidly and tomorrow morning's commute could be dicey with all the rain we've had the last 24 hours.

"Not only is the cold going to be serious tomorrow morning, but the standing water and slush that's around will freeze and we could have black ice to deal with tomorrow morning as well," says Sobel.

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They're calling it the Polar Vortex. But what exactly does that even mean?

Weather blogger with "The Baltimore Sun" Scott Dance tells WDEL more about it.

"The low pressure system tens of thousands of feet in the atmosphere kind of parks itself over the North Pole and it's just kind of spilling southward," says Dance.

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The vortex will have most of the nation in its freezing grip -- a rare weather phenomenon.

"Even single digit temperatures happen, on average, maybe once a year around here. To have these kind of back to back spells of frigid temperatures, and of course, what's happening nationwide is pretty exceptional," Dance says.

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The extreme cold could lead to rolling blackouts and frozen pipes.

"Checking your outdoor faucet, making sure that you can shut them off if you can," says Dance.

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If you have to be outside, bundle up -- frostbite is a major concern.

Forecasters issued a wind chill advisory for Delaware from 1 a.m. Tuesday until noon, warning that wind chills could dip to 10 or 15 degrees below zero after sunset Monday.

The arctic air won't move out until Thursday. Temperatures will return to the forties by the weekend.

Church-run shelters are available for those who are homeless in Delaware, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.

DelDOT: Avoid driving after 6 p.m.

Delaware transportation officials say trucks applied salt to roads this afternoon but are also warning that drivers should avoid unnecessary travel Monday night.

"All of our trucks went out statewide starting about 2 p.m. and applied salt to the roads throughout Delaware on every primary, secondary and local road," said Jim Westhoff, a DelDOT spokesman.

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Nevertheless, the agency is advising you to avoid unnecessary travel after 6 p.m. because of potential hazardous road conditions. Roads will also be re-salted Tuesday morning.

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