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 snowy curb.
  • Quit shaving. This goes for women too. All those little hairs trap 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!

136 thoughts on “How to Survive the Polar Vortex

Add yours

  1. 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.


    1. 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!


  2. 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*


    1. 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!


      1. 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!


  3. 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


    1. 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


  4. “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?


    1. 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.


    1. 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!


  5. 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??


    1. 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! 🙂


          1. Never heard that before! How neat is that? According to the weather man, we’ll have the 20s for one blissful day, then it’s back to the sub-zeros again. My poor blood cells – how can they keep up?!! 🙂


  6. 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.


    1. Thanks so much! That photo became blue with the cloud cover and my old camera. 🙂 It’s an old photo! They are forecasting FEET of snow in the Rockies so I might have to hit the road early tomorrow!
      It is like another world down there in the Deep South. Yep. It’s capitalized according to the Weather Channel! Stay warm!


  7. 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.


      1. 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


  8. 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


  9. 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?


    1. 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!


    1. 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!


    1. 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!


  10. 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!


  11. 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. 🙂


    1. 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!


  12. 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


    1. 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!


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