'King of All Cold Fronts': What to Know About Arctic Winds

Dec 15, 2016

If you haven’t noticed yet, it’s cold outside. Like, really, really cold. So cold, in fact, that the National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory for the Milwaukee area, which has been experiencing windchills - unsurprising, considering windchills dipped well below zero last night.

Meteorologists have blamed the extreme cold on an interesting weather phenomenon: an arctic cold front, or arctic winds. 

"Arctic cold fronts are basically the king of all cold fronts. It's basically defined by the source region of the air coming in behind it, and that air is coming from the arctic regions," says Chris Dolce, a digital meteorologist for weather.com

"Usually behind arctic cold fronts, that's where you're going to have your most bitter cold temperatures," he says. "So sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest, and you get those dangerous windchills dipping down into the minus 30s, even minus 40s at times."

These conditions dramatically raise the risk of frostbite on exposed skin, and because of how arctic cold fronts move, temperatures tend to drop 10, 20 degrees in very little time. "You want to be prepared for a drastic drop in temperatures, you don't want to be caught off guard," Dolce cautions.