How to Survive the Polar Vortex

polar vortex 1

In case you haven’t heard, half the US is in a cyclonic weather pattern. It seems the center of the Polar Ice Cap has relocated somewhere between Madison, Wisconsin and Cleveland. The Polar Vortex is threatening to stick around and continue to break low temperature records all over the world. It spawned Winter Storm Leon which trounced through the South. It sprinkled the white stuff on several states which rarely see snow and wreaked havoc with highways and airports. His brother Maximus is bounding in from the west and is licking his heels. Is there no end to PV’s fury?

Noaa_current_snow_ice_canada_usa_1-6-2014Snow cover on January 6th, 2014

Looks like an ice age to me. Will spring ever arrive in our Northern states?

Breck snowstorm 2011

Here are some tips to help you survive the coldest winter on record.

  • Wear a hat to bed. Heat rises and your pillow could cause your ears to freeze off.
  • Get acclimated. Strip down and jump in the snow. Roll around and count to 10. Then hit a warm shower. Repeat this exercise a couple times a day and soon you’ll be wearing shorts and a t-shirt while picking up your newspaper from the curb.
  • Quit shaving. This goes for women too. All those little hairs will trap your body heat. Make a waxing appointment for May or June.
  • Sleep with a friend, a lover, a neighbor or all of the above. Hey. This is serious. You have to stay warm.
  • Don’t have any friends? Buy or adopt a dog. With a record-breaking winter like this, you’ll need three of them to keep you warm. You’re a cat person? You’ll need twenty.
  • Layer up. To stay warm indoors, slip on your Lycra workout clothes and wool socks. Throw on your long undies, sweat pants, turtleneck, and wool sweater. Don’t go outdoors without a one-piece ski or snowmobile suit, hat, face mask and goggles. Wear wool gloves under your mittens. Make sure to pee before you dress.
  •  Start baking bread, buns, cakes and cookies. Leave the oven door open after you finish to help heat the room. The couple extra pounds you will gain will create a nice layer of fat to keep you warm.

Watch out Martha

  • Beat cabin fever. Get cable. You can’t afford to get stuck in a snow drift while driving to the movie theater. There are plenty of shows to watch on TV or your computer including Downton Abbey‘s first 3 seasons and 5 seasons of Breaking Bad. If you really go stir crazy, you can catch up on old episodes of Dr. Who. That series began in 1963.
  • Stay hydrated. Wine contains resveratrols which builds your immune system and wards off the flu. Okay. So there’s no proof. Have a glass and you’ll forget about the storm brewing outside your window.
  • If all else fails, fly to Colorado. We are the home to 300 sunny days.

Here’s a warm weather photo of the Front Range during summer. Maybe it will thaw out a few readers.


How are you surviving the winter?

Related articles:

Polar Vortex

2014 North American Cold Wave  (source of the first two Wikipedia diagrams)

Here is a cool site where you can enter your state to see if there are any weather watches or warnings in your area. Another snowstorm is coming to Colorado. Yeah!

ColdGear from Under Armour

Disclaimer: The outdoor patio photo is from Breckenridge in 2011. I can only dream of another winter like that!

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Filed under Humor, Life

134 responses to “How to Survive the Polar Vortex

  1. Pingback: This Just In! | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  2. Pingback: Are You Ready “to” Spring? | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  3. Love the list Susie! If I lived in an area affected by the Vortex, I would certainly put those things to good use. But…I am on the SoCal coast and we are warm and dry as a bone. If we do not get rain soon, I’m afraid we will be licking the faucet like a dog by next summer. We’ve been asked to take less showers and not to flush the toilet. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. Yep, this is what our life has come down to. I’m moving to Colorado! :)

    • Oh my gosh! I didn’t realize how bad it was. I can’t believe these snow storms aren’t reaching you. We’ll be sending you lots of water in springtime!
      Come on out Karen! You would love it. :)
      Thanks so much!

  4. BRILLIANT suggestions!!! I love it!

  5. “Sleep with a friend, a lover, a neighbor or all of the above.”
    Bow chicka wow wow, Susie!

  6. At a first look I thought it was the brain!

  7. How’s it chilling over there? :)

  8. Love most of the ideas.
    I watch “Sherlock” and “The Walking Dead”. Writing has picked up and I have started creating crossword puzzles. I still sell some on Amazon, mostly for our library, and I blog. Sometimes, I go out.
    All in all, there have been a few bad days, but mostly good ones.

  9. If my girlfriend stops shaving, I’m gonna need more moisturizer is all I’m saying. And yanno, it’s funny how LeBron James relocates his talents to South Beach while the Polar Ice Cap chooses Cleveland. There HAS to be something to that.

  10. Love the baking idea. Sweets and warmth? I’m all for that. Mathair and I are doing our best to stay warm, though at times it feels as though there’s icicles hanging from certain body parts. LOL. I’m all for the wine and have been doing a lot that as of late, Brandy as well. Yum. ;) Unfortunately, our central heat and air broke down just before December, so the family’s been sleeping in the living room next to the fireplace. It’s nice in the sense that we’ve had some fun times playing games with each other and spending some real quality time, but we are itching to get it fixed ASAP. Hope all is well with you and yours, Susie. Have a great and safe weekend.

  11. The humor is not lost on me, but during my former life in upper Wisconsin (i see you were there recently) I actually have done several of these – the baking was my fav. Acclimating was a necessity, And I did buy a golden retriever – I said it was for the kids, but I lie. I see by the photo of your lawn furniture you are in the thick of it ! ( CT has fairly mild weather, no snow on the ground here!)
    So glad you stopped by me on your wild ride – I Look forward to read your other pages etc!

    • Thanks so much for following!
      I am from Wisconsin, but have been in Colorado for 26 years. That photo is from 3 years ago. We drove up to Breck last night and you should see the deck today! it makes that photo look like a little storm. Breckenridge got 9 feet of snow in January! I’ll be taking a lot of photos and will post tomorrow. Let’s go skiing!

  12. Great advice – but thanks that we have it very nice and pleasant inside during the winter … where ever we live here in Sweden.
    But we very seldom have below -41C. Over there you had some terrible winter spells this season. House are built for proper winters … can image that anyone that sleeps indoor over here needs a hat or a neighbor, but I quite like the idea. Have a very handsome neighbor. We should all have a big AGA cooker (Swedish) … in our kitchen, will keep a whole house warm, very popular again, but not in apartments. Love this post, Susie.

    • Thanks Viveka!
      I’m glad to hear you are staying warm in Sweden. Good luck with your neighbor! There is a lot to be said about homes that are made for winter. I can’t imagine how cold it is in some home in the South! Space heaters must be sold out.

      • In UK it was bad .. so soon it went under Zero … and everything was cold: cars, trains, shops … in Sweden it’s cold outside and warm everywhere indoors. Living in Belfast I had to have jacket on indoors and that was a brand new apartment. The coldest Sweden had this year -41 but that is up by the Polar circle. Couldn’t handle that, so I can image what parts of US are going through. Keep warm and safe.

  13. Great hints, but I already stopped shaving in November. How else can you keep your knee-socks up?


  15. NH is usually under snow at this time of year, but the number of consecutive days where we have had temperatures below 10 degrees is unprecedented. Love your tips! Hats thick enough and low enough to cover the ears are a mainstay for me in the wintertime. That, and spiked coffee drinks. :)

  16. Great advice Susie especially regarding cats. It will be a bit nippy here over the weekend so the country will grind to a halt!

  17. Temperatures are finally on the rise in the Big Apple again, Susie. When we left a movie theater this evening, it was 27. Milton didn’t even feel the need to put on his cap. By Super Bowl Sunday, the temperature could be close to 50. I welcome it!

  18. We are currently in Thailand, although admittedly our hometown in Northern California is dry and warm (or so I have heard) so either way we would have escaped the storm. :)

  19. sunshinebright

    Wonderful ways to “beat the cold.” Too bad I won’t be able to try them all. I live in South Florida! However, I love the idea of surrounding myself with 20 cats (although I have only 3), and baking. There’s nothing like fresh baked goods to make a house a home as soon as you walk in. Loved your blog. :-)

  20. Here in central NY (go SU!!!) I’ve been chilled to the bone since December, and the PV is doing me in. My survival strategies: at night, or anytime, clutch a rice bag warmed for 3 minutes in the microwave; eat entire batches of ginger snap cookies and guzzle gallons of herb tea; wear layer upon layer; catch up on things you’ve put off, and enjoy the slower pace!
    Fun post, Susie, thanks. :-)

  21. Great ideas! I have been drinking a lot of hot cocoa and wrapping up in a heated blanket while praying this winter will end soon!

  22. I love your survival posts, Susie. We learn so much from you. You forgot to tell us to go to a caribbean island until May 1st. :) I like all your survival tips except for the cuddling in bed with my neighbor. He is 80 and drinks a lot of gin. I suppose the gin on his breath could keep me warm if I were desperate. :) ps. You coming East ( N Jersey) to watch your boys at the Super Bowl?

  23. I don’t think I am surviving it. I froze to death weeks ago…

  24. The Regular Guy NYC

    I don’t know why everyone is freaking out. It’s called winter for a reason. When I was a kid it was always this cold in the winter. It’s 29 in NYC right now. In January. Which is what is should be!

    I actually like the cold, and can’t wait to go out for a brisk run later on. It’s refreshing!

    Also, hot toddies really help!

  25. I recently saw an episode of “Brew Dogs” on the Esquire network, where they toured and sampled microbrews from all over your gorgeous state….as if I need any additional reasons to want to visit.
    On a different topic, I think I saw some of the snowboarders from your header photo in the background of a picturesque scene from an 1890′s gold mining drama….sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  26. Susie, it was freakin’ 18 outside and I went to the gym. Car bitched at being woken but after an hour I was wound up enough to brave the cold. Ya know I actually kind of like 18 or so as long as the wind stays calm. And have done a calm -40. It’s medium jacket and long-johns weather. You should have seen auto-correct for long-johns. Johnson?

  27. Great tips, Susie! This insanely cold weather has me thinking of the ending of the Twilight Zone episode “The Midnight Sun.” Hard not to believe we’re drifting away from the sun, isn’t it?

    • It is crazy! I think the world is becoming elliptical! Kidding… It is climate change with all these extremes. I am afraid to think of what summer may be like.
      Thanks and stay warm!

  28. I’ve got to go get 18 cats! And some wine! Add old Dr. Who episodes to that mix and we’ve got ourselves a polar vortex party.

  29. I love how you included wine, Susie. It can double as both warmth and entertainment! ;)

  30. Well, I’m sure a lot of folks in the South would love to fly to Colorado right now, but the airports are closed and the streets are impassable. So, thanks for offering, but seriously, what were you thinking? Tantalize with that carrot you big tease.

    Now, here in California, we’re experiencing early summer in January. It’s getting a little annoying. I know, I know, wha wha wha. But it’s true, people are actually complaining about the nice weather. We want and NEED some major rain.

    So, what I’m going to do, is fly to Colorado in September when the reservoirs have dried up and the wells have gone dry.

    Stay warm and dry with all those layers, hot buns and bed-buddies!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Summer weather? I heard you were getting some of this storm. It hit the mountains toady and Danny, Kelly and his girlfriend skied in waist deep powder today! Jealous!
      Come out! September is usually gorgeous. Last year, we got a little too much rain.
      I am baking!

  31. Oh no, you DI’NNT. ( I don’t know how to spell that. Imagine it coming across as really hip.)

    I recall a certain edict going out across the land from one Peg-O-Leg, forbidding speaking of the . . the. . . you know.

    I tried #2, and now my dog isn’t speaking to me. Apparently, I’ve embarrassed him.

    Love the shot of your back deck. :-)

    • I forgot about the winter that wouldn’t be named. How about PV? Is that better?
      Poor puppy. I’m sure he’ll get over. Bring a few biscuits with you next time. Oh yeah. Crumbs….
      Thanks! I love that picture too. It was taken up in Breck in 2011. We are headed for a similar year in snow totals. They have already gotten 7 feet of snow in January and 2 more feet probably dumped today!!! Come on out and go skiing!

  32. Too funny! Nice to hear a fun side. Our friends’ kids were with their aunt when they rolled today. Luckily all are okay. It’s bonkers out there! I laughed at your grab all of them suggestion. Hee hee! Stay warm!

  33. Liz

    lol, although that baking pic looks awesome! I’m in Michigan so we’ve unfortunately been hit w/ some polar vortex weather.

    • You sure have! It has been a crazy winter for most of the Northern states. Not to be outdone, the Southern states got in on the fun!
      I have homemade bread in the machine. I was influenced by my own post!

  34. This pretty much sounds like you are just getting ready to come to Canada for a visit.

  35. I’ve been spending part of the night on our couch because it’s the only semi-comfortable place to sleep. The dog keeps my feet warm, and the cat is sleeping on my tummy.

  36. Those rolls look too yummy! Surviving just fine here, forecast is 71 today but cooling to the upper 50′s the next few days. Brrr. ;)

    • Hahaha! So spoiled already. :) It was 55 yesterday and we’re getting up to 8 inches of snow tonight. It will be warm again in a few days…And that my dear friend is why I LOVE Colorado!

  37. Two pairs of socks. (You may need some extra-wide shoes to fit over the socks. No, don’t go out in this weather to shop for them. What’s the internet for anyway? Order a pair.)

    Lotsa layers. And an indoor coat.

    Please can we have summer now?

    • I added a link to Under Armour for online shopping! :)
      I’ve stretched out all of my boots by wearing thick wool socks.
      I wonder what Phil will say on Groundhog’s day…
      Stay warm!

  38. Susie…didn’t you post a panorama of Front Range at sunset?? sunrise? I can’t find it…was it your photo? Need a copy for art research project I’m currently working on…if it was your photo….can we chat??? Thanks. Raye

  39. We ended up spending twice on heating than last year & winter isn’t over yet. Polar Vortex did forced to make change in our lifestyle. Our 4 years old is back with us in our bed. He was reluctant to leave his carbed behind, but Mom put her foot down.

    • Mom wanted him in your bed. Wow! I bet you don’t have heat where you live. Many in the south don’t and it is bitter cold there today. (((shiver)))
      Thanks Yatin!

      • It’s a single zone heating & his room gets cold. (As I said above heating expense doubled this year) Cranking up the thermostat is not helping much for his room. Heat won’t keep up with the draft from gushing wind. We did insulate the windows but we want him with us to ensure he’s warm

  40. What an upbeat post!!!!!
    I’m ready to come … that snow on the back deck looks inviting, especially the way you photo shopped the color, love it. I’m so behind at home here and ready to get caught up soon. Kids are home for three days from 2 inches of snow. Yep, that’s how we treat winter in the south. We run from it, actually we sit home and smile cause everything closes.
    Happiness abounds, except for the people that never made it home. When my son told me the city had plows and spreaders, I said what? Not in the south, no way, never. He was right, but I suspect they didn’t know how to properly use them or thought they had enough. Then, when he told me the city below us was getting snow and we weren’t; I was like, again, no way, unheard of. I was right, hah! I have become a southerner.
    Nice to virtually see ya! Smiles.

  41. Ha! It’s a balmy 27 degrees in Wisconsin today, and I fully expect to see people wearing shorts! After the -40 wind chills of earlier this week, today feels like spring, and I could swear I heard a bird chirping this morning. Must be the remaining flock member who didn’t freeze to the trees. :) I’m staying warm by wearing lots of fleece and huddling under my wool blanket. Spring, where are you??

    • I remember being on UW’s campus after a cold winter. When it hit 40, there were students playing Frisbee in shorts. It’s like that out here because the sun is so intense.

      Also, there is a physiological change that your blood goes through in acclimating to temperatures. I found that our while working at the VA in Madison (illustrator). One secretary was from New Orleans. She kept complaining about the cold. The doctors told her it would take a few weeks to change her blood cell size. Cool or what?
      Enjoy your rise in temperatures! :)

  42. I’ve been drinking lots of hot chocolate.

    While standing over the blissfully hot teapot.
    49 days til Spring!!!

    • It’s gotta get warmer up there as the sun rises higher each day. Right???
      I love hot chocolate!
      Except for two plunges into subzero temps, Colorado has been pretty seasonal. 55 yesterday and snow today! Thanks Guapo!

  43. “Start baking bread, buns, cakes and cookies.”

    So into this idea right now, both for the heat and the carbs. In fact since this polar vortex weather event began, I’ve become a carb-eating machine. Never have I craved the above items so much. Weird, huh?

    • My daughter took a class in world cultures and the types of food found in certain regions is related to the average temperature. Your body burns more calories when it is cold. I don’t have any scientific proof of that, but I gotta believe it does!
      Happy baking and stay warm! Thanks for stopping by.

  44. Hi Susie – I have been watching the news about your weather, from a very hot Australia – very concerned for your guys over there. Thinking of you a lot. xxx

    • Oh, thanks Julie! We’ve had a couple dips in temps, but nothing like the upper half of the country. It has been a crazy year of weather. Our mountains have been getting tons of snow! xxoo

  45. It actually FROZE here in Texas the other day, and that never happens in the daylight.

    • You probably don’t own a pair of wool socks. :)
      I heard that 3 inches of snow feel in Southern states and cities shut down!!!!

      • Yeah, we don’t know how to deal with that stuff.
        It’s like magic to us.
        Some call it snow, but most know what it really is: a sign of the end times.
        REPENT, people!
        …But if this keeps our summer temps of 110 down to just 100, I’ll be plenty pleased with the PV!

  46. Great list, Susie ~ I warmed up laughing! This PV winter has been brutal from all I read and hear constantly from our family and friends. I feel for everyone suffering through it and I’m going to take some of your advice in sympathy right now … the wine and baking tips have a strong appeal … I’ll double-check your list for what I need when I go up to “deepfreeze country’ for two weeks later in February. *whispering … between us, I’m glad I’m spending most of the winter in south FL*

    • Thanks Patricia and for the tweet!
      Oooooooo! Make sure to bring your spandex, lycra, or polyester workout clothes. They are amazing long underwear! I wore mine constantly in Wisconsin and we came during a warm spell! (Highs in the 20′s.)
      Enjoy your Florida sunshine!

  47. The professor is growing a beard but I sleep shirtless! It’s -2 here!

  48. Right now waking up and not seeing the white stuff outside and feeling the cold for just one second would be super..:) BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR to those pictures..:)

    • A storm is coming in today, but it is 40 degrees here at 7:00! I’m sure the temperature will drop. In the meantime, Keystone got close to a foot by now so Danny, Kelly and his girlfriend headed up to ski!
      Stay warm Linda!!! Stop by Colorado on your way back to Cali!

  49. That had me laughing! The snowsuit observation is particularly good :( ~Catherine

  50. Enjoy the views by looking out any and all windows of your house, but do not touch the glass. It will be very cold. Thanks, Susie, for your helpful hints. Chuckling has been known to raise body temperature, too.

  51. I lived in Colorado on and off for over 20 years, mainly in Nederland and Central City. My Mom still lives in Central City.

    Where on the Front Range do you live?

  52. All great ideas. I especially love the no-shaving one. The main thing that helps me get warm(ish) is coming home and getting in a hot bath and sipping hot tea. Even then I’m still cold.

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