Editorial: Penguins Get Cold, Too!

The unthinkable has happened: Youngstown State University canceled classes Wednesday and Thursday due to frigid temperatures. At first, we all thought we would be huddled together for warmth like penguins, but President Jim Tressel made the decision to cancel.

Students were so worried about classes being canceled that 3,350 people signed a petition on change.org asking Tressel to cancel classes. Your cries have been heard. Thank you, Tressel!

No need to fret, though, because the dedicated Jambar staff still worked hard Wednesday afternoon to publish the paper because “the news doesn’t get cold.”

The National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning for northern Ohio around 4:30 Jan. 29, effective until 4 p.m. Feb. 1. This means if you must go outside, please stay covered, dry and dress with layers.

Bill Buckler, associate professor in the geography department, described wind chill as a combination of the temperature, the wind and what temperature you feel against your skin.

“Against your skin, there’s a layer of warm air that’s heated by energy from your body, but the faster the winds that blow on exposed skin, that hot air is blown away and you start losing energy pretty quick,” he said.

Due to the wind chill, it is best to stay inside and protect yourself from these extremely dangerous temperatures, and there are higher chances of frostbite when there is exposed skin, according to Buckler.

According to Ryan Halicki, Weeknight Meteorologist for 33 WYTV, the wind chills that can occur are between minus 25 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

“In those kinds of conditions, frostbite is possible in as little as ten to fifteen minutes,” he said.

Halicki said it’s not uncommon to get “cold snaps” and major storms in January. Buckler reinforced this when said the cold weather that is occurring is not unusual.

“The unusual thing is that it’s colder than it would typically be in the winter time, but this polar vortex is nothing new,” Buckler said.

He described the polar vortex as a large pocket of cold air, a low pressure system that surrounds the north polar region in the winter time.

“It rotates around that pole in a counterclockwise manner and it’s always there in the winter time. It keeps that cold air typically centered around the polar regions,” Buckler said.

He said the polar vortex is dipping far to the south, grabbing arctic air from the polar regions and carrying it to the great plains and the eastern United States.

Buckler said because northeast Ohio is in the middle latitudes, “we’re sort of in a zone of conflict and battle between armies of cold air to the north and armies of warm air to the south, and often the come together in the mid-latitudes.”

He said this has the possibility of occurring more often the future, as the polar vortex is the result of the difference in temperature between polar regions and tropical regions, and the greater the difference, the faster and the stronger the winds.

Let’s hope it doesn’t occur more frequently, though, because we all know what big babies we are.

This cold weather, although not too unusual, is still scary. Our best advice is to stay inside on your day off, drink some hot cocoa and watch your favorite Netflix series, or maybe catch up on some homework that you already procrastinated on. It is smart to have cars stocked with jumper cables/blankets. As always, bring your pets in. There is no excuse to let a helpless animal freeze to death.

For those who have nowhere to go, the university is still open even though classes are canceled. Make use of those buildings and stay warm.

Additionally, the Help Network of Northeast Ohio will have a warming station at the Community Center, 1344 Fifth Ave., 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.