Polar vortex 2014

This image of 2014's polar vortex was captured by NOAA's GOES-East satellite on Jan. 6, 2014.

Gov. Tony Evers yesterday declared a state of emergency in response to the record onslaught of frigid polar air hovering over the state, sparking mockery from climate-change deniers.

“We’ll bring (the cold invasion) up every time (Evers) mentions Global Warming,” warned James Wigderson, editor of RightWisconsin.

He went on: “Someone else pointed out on Facebook that the bad weather started when Evers took down (Scott Walker’s) "Open for Business"signs. That's about as scientific as some of the theories I've heard about the snow and cold.”

Wigderson also ridiculed what he suggested is a conflict between two climate studies — one concluding that Lake Mendota would freeze over less frequently due to global warming and one that predicted global warming will make “polar vortex” invasions into the state a semi-regular occurrence.

Along with a state of emergency, Evers directed state agencies to close government offices for public business, with limited exceptions. The Wisconsin State Capitol will remain open to the public.

"It's critically important that we're ensuring the people of Wisconsin and our public employees are safe in these dangerous weather conditions," Evers said in a press statement. "I am urging people to prepare for this severe weather and to exercise caution when traveling or going outdoors."


Wind chill values reached - 47 degrees Fahrenheit at Timmerman Field in Milwaukee and -50 in Waukesha early this morning, according to the National Weather Service. Record-low air temperatures of -23 degrees are possible in the state early Thursday.

The U.S. Postal Service took the rare step today of cancelling mail delivery in Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Amtrak has cancelled short-distance corridor trains and long-distance overnight trains to and from Chicago today. In a press statement, Amtrak also announced cancellation of most long-distance services to or from Chicago are also not expected run on Thursday, Amtrak said in a news release.

Battle of tweets

Besides local pundits, national Republican leaders have also weaponized the record cold snap in their battle to discredit climate change. Donald Trump, for instance, took quickly to twitter with a message about the weather.

“In the beautiful Midwest, windchill (sic) temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!” tweeted @realDonaldTrump.

Late-night TV host Steve Colbert responded with a tweet of his own: “Global warming isn't real because I was cold today! Also great news: World hunger is over because I just ate.”

Meanwhile, NOAA tweeted a cartoon from its Climate.gov account saying, “Winter storms don’t prove that global warming isn’t happening.” The organization denied its tweet was in response to Trump’s.

Climate vs weather

Scientists says that climate-change deniers don’t understand the difference between climate and weather.

Weather refers to day-to-day fluctuations in temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc.,  in any one place. Weather is very changeable.

But climate describes what the weather looks like, both globally and locally, over a long period of time. Weather measurements are used to identify climatic trends.

For example, the current cold air over the Midwest originated in northern Canada, leaving temperatures there are relatively mild as their cold air is pushed pulling southward.

And while the northern half of the United States is in the frigid grip of cold air from the Arctic, Australia is suffering one of its deadliest heat waves in recorded history. That means global temperatures might be above average despite the temporary blast of Artic air that has disrupted millions of lives in the northern United States.

See also Winter weather emergency preparedness


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