Polar Vortex!

If you don't live in the mid-to-upper Midwest, chances are you're blissfully carrying on as January flips to February, proud of yourself for sticking to your New Year’s workout resolution.

 Well, bully for you.

 Here in the Midwest, we’re in Polar Vortex LOCK DOWN.


8 degrees in St. Louis.

-6 in Chicago.

-9 in Milwaukee.

A brisk -12 in Minneapolis.

Winnipeg? -18. Sure, it’s Canada, but still…


And those are actual temperatures- pre-wind chill. Wind chill temperatures dropped below -60 in some areas last night. MINUS. SIXTY. Sheesh…


Businesses are closed. Schools are cancelled. We’re having to set things on fire just to keep them from splintering into a million pieces (See‘Train Tracks: Chicago’). It’s unreal.


But all is not lost in the fury of arctic conditions. Polar Vortex LOCK DOWN presents the unique opportunity of some unanticipated free time. Here’s a quick list of 10 things to do during what meteorologists are calling the Cold Snap of a Generation:


1.     Sleep.These days, we seem to have to come up with excuses to sleep. Well, this is as good an excuse as any. ‘It’s too cold to leave my house, so I’m just going to hibernate. Like a bear.’ Bears are awesome, and no one can fault you for wanting to sleep like one.

2.     Cook.It’s too cold to go to the store, and therein lies the challenge- ‘What can I make- that is actually edible- with what is currently in my fridge/freezer/pantry…?’ It’s an exercise in culinary creativity, even for those that typically loathe cooking. Hey- you gotta eat, right? Get in the kitchen and whip up some peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches. (YUM.)

3.     Read.Similar to #1, it seems there’s never time to sit down and read a good book.These days, we waste our time reading pithy social media posts, poorly written blogs and click-baiting headlines. Ugh. Brew a hot beverage, snuggle up under a warm blanket and pick up a good book.

4.     Play.If you’re co-habitating with others that have been forced inside by sub-zero temperatures, it’s a perfect opportunity to play some games. Games are great for passing the time, great for conversation, great for stirring up a little competitive heat. Use caution- remember it’s FREEZING outside, and no one is going anywhere. If the intensity level starts to reach the boiling point, it might be best to put the games away and let everyone cool off.

5.     Watch.Whether you run through the Harry Potters, spend the day getting to know The Avengers, catch up on Oscar nominees or binge an entire season of your favorite show, you can’t go wrong with whiling away the vortex watching.

6.     Exercise.‘It’s too cold to go to the gym- I’m gonna take today off…’ FOR SHAME!!! There are COUNTLESS workout routines you can do, right in the warm comfort of your own home. Push-ups, sit-ups, planks and dips- all do-able right on the floor of your living room. Lunges, wall-sits, deep squats and calf raises- again, all things that can be done at home. It may not be as intense as what you would do at the gym, but SOMETHING is better than NOTHING. 3 sets of 10 of all of the above-mentioned exercises is a full body workout, and can be finished in under 30 minutes. Get after it…

7.     Calla friend. If they live in another part of the country, chances are they’re not aware of your current plight. Still- even if you catch them for 5 minutes,phone calls are also rare these days, and your friend will most likely appreciate the personal contact. Maybe they’ll even send you some soup.

8.     Go outside. (But be quick about it). Seriously- go outside; experience the Polar Vortex in all its frigid glory. Note the unique things that happen when it’s this cold- bubbles freeze into delicate soap spheres; water tossed into the air freezes and scatters as little ice crystals on the ground; water balloons freeze into beautiful ice globes (Tip: add food coloring to the water balloons before placing outside.) Embrace the COLD! (But only briefly.)

9.     Plan.We’re so busy these days, rushing around from one thing to the next, time for planning is sparse at best. So, take advantage of the extra time and PLAN. Plan a trip. Plan a day out. Plan a get-together with friends. Plan to do something you really love to do. (And then pray that the weather gets warmer… SOON.)

10.  Write.Even if you're not a writer, take the opportunity to write a few things down.Write a note to a friend or loved one. Write about the unique experience of having life shut down due to cold weather. Write about what you hope to accomplish in 2019. Write a blog about ’10 Things to do during a Polar Vortex’.


(OK  - 11 Things to do during a Polar Vortex…


11.  Stay warm. Extreme cold isn't something to mess around with- bundle up and look out for one another. Check on your neighbors, check on your pets, make sure your family and loved ones are safe. Maybe even send them some soup.

Nick Tilley

Fit 4 Adventure Blog Contributor and Adventure Guide

Adventure Travel Specialist


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