As much of the country digs out from a powerful winter storm that buried parts of the Northeast, tundra-like temperatures are poised to deliver a rare and potentially dangerous blow to the Midwest, with forecasters predicting a near-record or historic cold outbreak.
The "polar vortex," as one meteorologist calls it, is expected to send cold air piled up at the North Pole down to the U.S., funneling it as far south as the Gulf Coast and driving temperatures below freezing for most of the nation.
Forecasters expect a weekend warm-up in some areas before temperatures plunge again, sending wind chill temperatures in areas in North Dakota and Minnesota to minus 50 degrees by Saturday night.
Those states are notorious for their cold winters, but states in the Mid-Atlantic and New England can also expect wind chill temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees.
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Cities and states are already taking precautions. Minnesota called off school for Monday statewide, the first such closing in 17 years, because of projected highs in the minus teens and lows as cold as 30 below. Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., students also won't be in class Monday. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple urged superintendents to keep children's safety in making the decision after the state forecast called for "life threatening wind chills" through Tuesday morning.
Ken Simosko, a meteorologist from Bismarck, said it would take all of five minutes to get frostbite in minus 50 degree condition.