Fully three-quarters of the United States has felt the influence of a polar vortex this week, as an arctic air mass spread from the Canadian border to as far south as Alabama and Georgia.

Fully three-quarters of the United States has felt the influence of a polar vortex this week, as an arctic air mass spread from the Canadian border to as far south as Alabama and Georgia. Approximately 212 million people are experiencing below freezing temperatures, and about one fourth of the population is suffering from below zero temperatures.

The frigid air mass, the coldest in decades, came swiftly on the heels of a fast-moving Alberta Clipper which dumped up to six inches of snow on the Montevideo area on Sunday. Strong winds whipped up the fluffy snow, causing widespread drifting and whiteout conditions in open areas.

Many area schools were closed on Monday, and those that were open closed early due to the poor weather conditions. By Monday evening, all area school districts had made the decision to keep schools closed on Tuesday and Wednesday as well, due to dangerous, sustained sub-zero temperatures and wind chills.

The National Weather Service issued a statement saying that “historic cold” could be expected from Tuesday night through mid-day today (Thursday). A wind chill warning was issued for much of west central and central Minnesota from Tuesday through today.

On Tuesday, wind chills of 45 to 65 degrees below zero were recorded, and were expected to last for the duration of the wind chill warning, with the coldest temperatures expected overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, with an expected air temperature low of 30 degrees below zero.

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