Pull Out Your Snuggies: Historic Freeze Could Break Midwest Temp Records

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Sunday’s NFL playoff game in Green Bay could be among one of the coldest ever played — a frigid minus 2 degrees when the Packers and San Francisco 49ers kickoff at Lambeau Field. Medical experts suggest fans wear at least three layers and drink warm fluids — not alcohol.

Minnesota has called off school Monday for the entire state — the first such closing in 17 years — as well as the Wisconsin cities of Milwaukee and Madison.

Already, parts of New England dropped into the negatives Saturday, with East Brighton, Vt., seeing 30 below zero just after midnight and Allagash, Maine, hitting minus 36. The cold will sweep through other parts of New England where residents are digging out from a snowstorm.

Snow will reduce the sun’s heating effect, so nighttime lows will plummet because of the strong northwest winds, Maue said. Fresh snowfall is expected Saturday night, ranging from up to a foot in eastern Missouri and southern Michigan, 6 to 8 inches in central Illinois, 8 or more inches in western Kentucky and up to 6 inches in middle Tennessee.

The South also will dip into temperatures rarely seen. By Monday morning, western and central Kentucky could be below zero — “definitely record-breaking,” said weather service meteorologist Christine Wielgos in Paducah, Ky. And in Atlanta, Tuesday’s high is expected to hover in the mid-20s.

Before the polar plunge, Earth was as close as it gets to the sun each year on Saturday. The planet orbits the sun in an oval and on average is about 93 million miles away. But every January, Earth is at perihelion, and on Saturday, it was only 91.4 million miles from the sun.

That proximity doesn’t affect the planet’s temperatures. Maue noted that it’s relatively uncommon to have such frigid air blanket so much of the U.S., maybe once a decade or every couple of decades.

Yet, Truett said there are no clear trends in weather patterns to indicate what kind of temperatures are in store for the rest of the winter.

(AP Photo: Ice floats on the surface of Lake Michigan Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Chicago.)

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