How To Survive A Polar Vortex

frozen dudeWhat the heck is a Polar Vortex? Well let me tell you. You know the bitter cold that your experiencing here in the Midwest? Yes… that! That my dear reader, is what is now lovingly known as… wait for it! The dreaded POLAR VORTEX!!!! Never heard of it before? Me neither, but it sure is all over the news these days. I’m sure it’s just another thing the Americans will blame on the those darn treacherous Canucks! (No hate mail please as I too am one of those treacherous ‘nucks!) So what do you do when this nefarious visitor comes a calling in your neck of the woods? Maybe running down the road of your neighborhood screaming at the top of your lungs “The Vortex is coming, the Vortex is coming!!!” just like Paul Revere, but I am sure unlike him, your dutiful warning will fall upon deaf ears (Ever seen a crowd gather around a blaring car alarm? Nope, neither have I!) or possibly some old lady may break her hip rushing to the phone to call the police to report some crazy person yelling down her normally quiet street! I would recommend a more low key approach to getting yourself prepared for what is most assuredly going to be a complete nuisance! 

First off, let’s figure out what this actually is. According to the American Meteorology Society the definition of a Polar Vortex is “The planetary-scale cyclonic circulation, centered generally in the Polar Regions, extending from the middle troposphere to the stratosphere.” They go on to say ” Bottom line, it is where the arctic air always resides – at the north or south poles extending high into the atmosphere. It has always been there and always will as long as the Earth is intact. The fact that cold air breaks off of the main pool of cold air and dives southward is not unusual in and of itself. Think of it this way: If you run your hand through a bathtub full of water you will create swirls, some of which will seem sort of erratic. The atmosphere works in a similar way.”

Here’s a nifty little graphic (in case you’re not confused enough!)


So now that you know, don’t panic, I promise it will all be okay. I mean it can’t last forever… can it? No, it can’t, but being prepared is the key to surviving this bitter cold. If you are unable to stay toasty and warm in your snugly blanket and absolutely must venture outside, then you have to learn the ancient secret of layers! Since I know that none of your IQ’s are below your rhododendron houseplant, I still feel I should explain. When you put on your pair of socks, add maybe another pair of socks (to keep those cute little piggies nice and cozy warm) then when you put on your tighty whities, just add a comfy pair of long johns, then your pants and a spiffy shirt, add that sweater Aunt Ivanka knitted for you for Christmas last year, slap on a jacket, gloves and a toque (see I told you I was a Canuck!) and voila! Consider yourself layered! But don’t forget to keep those ears of yours covered as well, because unlike some lizards, when parts of us lowly humans fall off, they tend to stay off, and trust me when I tell you, you’ll want to keep those perky ears of yours. If at least for nothing else but to keep your cool shades up!

If you are lucky enough to be able to stay home please do so! Because truthfully, you can’t beat watching all those schmucks wandering about in these freezer like conditions. All the while as you gingerly sip your steaming Chai Latte Tea Extravaganza and making googly eyes across a cracking fire at your significant other! And please, let me say this again PLEASE!!! Keep your family pets (or to be politically correct, your four legged family members) inside! Even though they have a built in fur coat, it will not stop this kind of cold from penetrating them to the bone and freezing them into a solid pupsicle! (Okay, bad image!) Just like in the Summer heat, to which I am sure we are all craving right about now, keep them inside and out of this inclement weather.

Now, lets talk about that vehicle of yours shall we? This kind of cold is going to sap everything it can from your beloved ride! The battery can lose its charge leaving you stranded somewhere where civilization consists of a half a dozen prairie dogs and couple of wandering deer with nary a telephone, nor cell service in sight! So if your vehicle requires a battery heater, use it, it could save your life! Keeping a pair of jumper cables in the car is a must as well. Never keep your gas tank empty, always keep it at least half full, this way the gas line wont freeze up on you and again leaving you stranded! While you’re at it, it’s probably a good idea to keep a winter survival kit in the vehicle. Not in the trunk, in case of some accident that may befall you, leaving you unable to reach it, but store it in the back seat as that would be a great place for it to live until needed.

Fill this kit with a few items like the following:

  1. A Solar blanket (or at least a regular warm blanket)
  2. A change of warm clothes
  3. Extra gloves and hats
  4. A candle and matches (Not a lighter as that can freeze as well)
  5. Some food source like protein/power bars, or at least a bag of nuts. A can of soup (with a pull off lid) is handy as you can use the can to hold snow and melt it with the candle for water after you consume the food inside.
  6. Glow sticks and a flashlight (Make sure you check your batteries regularly)
  7. A small shovel
  8. Flares
  9. A siphon pump for getting yourself some fuel out of Bubba Jones gas tank or fuel for a much needed fire)
  10. Whistle. More important than you think, Remember the movie Titanic?  Yup, now you get it!

So there you have it my friends! This is the simplest way to survive this dreaded Polar Vortex. So please stop blaming the Canadians for all this coldness you are experiencing! (But in regards to the Alberta clipper? Ya, sorry aboot that, go ahead we can take it! )

Stay safe, stay warm and be kind to each other. 


About Kevin Powley

Creating chaos is the name of the game! Okay, maybe there is a little more to it than just chaos, like I'm a transplanted Canadian living in Wisconsin. Why the Cheesehead capital of the world you may ask? Okay, so you didn't but I'm going to tell you regardless. Love! Plain and simple, I'm here for love. What am I into? Well back in 2003... ish I bought my first guitar, now I own 7. I turned a spare bedroom into a little recording studio where I write and record my own music. Unfortunately I cannot read music. (Maybe a little to ADD to sit for lessons I guess?) But I love it, even though I don't set aside enough time to play much anymore. I'm a Gamer, an avid reader and I love to write. Every chance I get I take in the newest movie on the big screen. The bigger the blockbuster the bigger the screen to watch it upon! Currently I am enrolled in school and taking some courses to get a degree in nursing. I'm changing the path of my life once again, even though I am in my mid forties. Never to old to try something new I say! I live here in beautiful Wisconsin right smack dab in between Chicago and Milwaukee. Where we get to experience both worlds equally. I have been married to my gorgeous wife Susi for the past 12 years and have a furry family taking up my attention. My old Husky/Shepherd Buddy and our three cats Fletcher, Taiko and Felix. Who needs kids when you have all these guys to keep you busy? And busy they do keep us! :)
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