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. 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?


    1. 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!


  2. 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?


  3. 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.


  4. 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!


    1. I agree that it was cold when we were growing up, but the sub zero temps didn’t last for an entire winter. My friends and family in Wisconsin are used to winter and would love to move!
      29 is pretty normal, but -29 is wicked cold. Sounds like NYC hasn’t experienced the cold like other states.
      Now get your knees up and run!!


  5. 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?


  6. 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. 🙂


  7. 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. 🙂


  8. 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!


  9. 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. 🙂


  10. 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.


    1. 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.


      1. 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.


  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!


    1. 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. 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.


  13. 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.


  14. 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.


    1. Danny loved your comment! He loved the “Bow chicka wow wow!” Thanks Hook! It’s been a cold winter for a lot of folks. Can you blame them if they look for new ways to stay warm??? 🙂


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