The words for the day are "stay inside". Record-breaking low temperatures are on the way.
Long-standing records are poised to fall as the polar vortex sends extremely cold air into the north-central, midwestern and northeastern United States.
States of emergency have been issued in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan due to the extreme cold with many schools and businesses closing until the frigid air loosens its grip on the region later this week.
Minneapolis could break low temperature records originally set back in the 1800s, and Chicago could challenge it's all-time record low of minus 27 F, set on Jan. 20, 1985.
This extreme weather event comes courtesy of a dip in the polar vortex, which has swirled its way southward, out of the high Arctic, to give the Midwest and Northeast a taste of the winter weather normally felt in far northern Canada.
Here's what the NWS forecast office in Des Moines stated on Tuesday:
"THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE LIFE-THREATENING COLD AIR!!! This is the coldest air many of us will have ever experienced. This is not a case of 'meh, it's Iowa during winter and this cold happens.' These are record-breaking cold air temperatures, with wind chill values not seen in the 21st century in Iowa."
Depending on the location, Wednesday and Thursday are likely to be the coldest days in 20-plus years.
I recall that record low. I drove to Bayfield, Wisconsin to photograph ice formations on Lake Superior. The actual temperature was -40. I do not know what the wind chill was.
I kept my car running all night, locked, out of fear it would not start.
I got up the next morning, well before sunrise, and drove to Madeline Island.
They call it a "seasonal road". In reality it's Lake Superior.
But a few months of the year the ice is solid enough to drive on. Gas taxes support the "road".
Big Bay State park is on the far side of the island. No one in their right mind was anywhere near where I was that morning, but there I was and here is the image.
Big Bay State Park Winter Sunrise
Falling Through the Ice
Shortly after taking that image I fell through the ice, but not completely. One knee slammed into the ice holding me up, while the other leg went completely through.
The knee that hit the ice, my left knee, immediately swelled up and I could barely move it. I had a mile to go on cross county skis to get to my car. My car at the time had a clutch. I drove back to Chicago in two gears, second and fourth to eliminate painful shifting.
It was 6 months before the pain in my left knee was completely gone.
A worker friend asked me if I learned anything from the experience. I immediately replied, "Yes, you have to take some chances if you want to get good pictures".
He commented. "Well, at least you learned something".
If you are interested in photography, please check out my photography website Mish Moments.