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Wind chills in Midwest, northern Plains to drop 40 or 50 below

Some sub-zero wind chills possible here too

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ROANOKE, Va. – While we expect it to get very cold here Tuesday night through Thursday, keep in mind that it could always be worse. For instance, you could be in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota this week. 

Arctic air in its truest form will invade parts of the upper Midwest and northern Plains. International Falls, Minnesota already saw a low temperature of -44° Sunday morning. 

Wind chills will drop toward 40, or even 50, degrees below zero at times this week up north.

It doesn't take long for frostbite to settle in at that point. When the wind chill is anywhere from -25° to -50°, all it takes is 15 minutes or less for frostbite to happen. 

Some places may get close to record low wind chills. It'll be tough for Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines or Madison to break their all-time records. Could you imagine wind chills near -60°?!

We certainly won't break our record wind chill of -35° in Roanoke. That was set back in 1985, as were a few of the other records listed above. In both instances, a piece of the polar vortex broke off. When this happens, Arctic air plunges into the continental US.

For us, we'll see a piece of that Arctic air surge in behind Tuesday's snow showers. Some of the higher elevations may see wind chills below zero Wednesday morning. As temperatures plunge into the single digits Thursday morning, any little bit of wind could take wind chills below zero too. 

While it may not feel like 40 or 50 below, this is still some big-time cold we'll be dealing with. It goes without saying that you should protect your skin, your pets, pipes and people. 

We'll gradually start to thaw out by next weekend.

About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.