Iowa’s looming cold snap


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Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | January 29th, 2019

Iowa is no stranger to cold fronts.

The Midwestern state has experienced its fair share of extreme weather, with Des Moines reaching a documented -19 degrees Fahrenheit in 2009. This week, Iowa City and its surrounding areas are faced with a polar vortex so extreme that it’s forced the University of Iowa to cancel classes for the first time in 10 years. Temperatures are expected to reach up to -45 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill.

Cold fronts operate differently from most other fronts. They’re denser, and are often preceded by drops in pressure and approaching, thin lines of nebulous clouds. Cold fronts typically move faster, and are more angled than other fronts, leading to more vertical winds.

Wind is also a concern here. Wind chill increases the speed that air is carried away from the body, and can make cold temperatures feel even colder. Fast-moving currents can also make it more dangerous for people to stay outside in the cold, since body heat is more quickly taken away.

Staying safe in extreme cold is key. Multiple layers are a must if venturing outside, as frostbite and hypothermia can set in fairly quickly. That said, the best solution for surviving the upcoming cold snap is simple–stay inside.

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