Polar Vortex: A look back at the historic cold in Jan. 2019

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 12:50 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2023 at 1:08 PM CST
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - “It’s scary cold, still.” Those were the words of KWQC First Alert Meteorologist Kevin Phelps on January 30, 2019, when we were in the midst of a brutal stretch of dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills after a part of the polar vortex broke away from the arctic.

Between January 29 and 31, 2019, wind chills between -30° and -60° were felt from Burlington, to the Quad Cities, to Galena and everywhere in between. The coldest of the chills came on Jan. 30.

Air temperatures were -20° to almost -3°. With wind gusts 30 to 40 mph, wind chills were bone- chilling. It felt like -57° in Clinton; the coldest observed wind chill in the TV6 viewing area.

The polar plunge wasn’t done yet.

On Jan. 31, the core of the cold planted itself right over the QCA.

Actual air temperatures were anywhere from -20° south of the Quad Cities, to nearly -40° north.

All-time coldest temperature records were shattered.

At the Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, the temperature dropped to -33°; shattering the record of -29° set one day prior, and -27° which was the all-time coldest record for nearly 23 years.

The coldest temperature that morning in the state of Illinois, and the coldest ever in Illinois state history, was -38° at an observation site in Mt. Carroll.

The previous record was -36°, set back on Jan. 5, 1999 in Congerville, Ill., just east of Peoria.

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