Cold stats: This winter explained in 12 chilling numbers

<i>This post has been updated as indicated below.</i>

Yes, it’s been a harsh winter and the numbers — of freezing temperatures, canceled flights and accidents — bear that out.

A polar vortex in early January carried frigid temperatures and wind chills — some well below zero — from the Midwest to the East Coast, canceling school classes, grounding thousands of airline flights and prompting some officials to declare states of emergency.

In Kentucky, the weather was so brutal that an escaped prisoner turned himself in. Even other parts of the South — some known for balmier weather — got hit by a paralyzing storm this past week.

How bad is this winter? Here’s a look at a dozen chilling numbers:


7 Days that tens of thousands of people were left in the dark in parts of Michigan and New England after ice storms felled power lines in late December.

15.7 Average temperature in Chicago for the month of January — which is eight degrees below normal in the Windy City, National Weather Service forecaster Richard Bann told the Los Angeles Times. Last month was the coldest January since the mid-1980s.

30.3 Inches of snow that blanketed Fort Wayne, Ind., in January, breaking the city’s previous record of 29.2 inches set in 1982, according to Bann.

138 Number of hits, in millions, of a Google search of the term “polar vortex.”

50 The temperature swing North Carolina experienced the week of Jan. 6. In Charlotte, temperatures jumped from about 35 degrees to 65 degrees in just five days, nearing record highs, according to

50 The approximate number of people who on social media reported burning themselves or their friends after trying to turn boiling water into snow by throwing it in the air. A snowy-day experiment gone horribly wrong.

-60 Temperature of reported wind chills that scraped across Minnesota in early January, prompting Gov. Mark Dayton to close all schools for the first time in 17 years.

1,400 Number of traffic accidents logged by Georgia State Police on Wednesday after a few inches of unexpected snowfall trapped Atlanta motorists overnight on highways and forced hundreds of children to camp overnight at schools.

97,192 Total number of flight delays last week, according to flight tracking website

32 Expected low temperature in East Rutherford, N.J. — home to MetLife Stadium — on Super Bowl Sunday, according to a forecast.

6 Additional weeks of winter if the groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, which overlaps with the Super Bowl on Sunday.

[Updated, 1:36 p.m. Feb. 2: Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Sunday morning outside his Pennsylvania burrow, which supposedly means six more weeks of winter are on the horizon.]

47 Days until the official start of spring. But keep the overcoats handy.


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