These Intense Photos of the Brutal Polar Vortex Prove How Cold It Actually Is Outside

These subzero temperatures are no joke.

Polar Vortex Brings Extreme Cold Temperatures To Chicago
Scott Olson

The word "cold" doesn't even begin to describe what many people across the U.S. are experiencing this week. There’s currently a polar vortex ripping across the country, and it's bringing brutal winter weather with it. defines a polar vortex as, "a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles." Right now, it's sending a surge of freezing air down into the Northern Hemisphere.

According to , the Midwest is being hit the hardest by these harsh conditions, with temperatures dipping below negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit in some places like . The wind chill is even worse: In some areas it feels like it's negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit. , , , , and have all recorded bitterly cold temperatures.

Not only does this weather feel unbearable, but it's also extremely dangerous. The Weather Channel notes that we're dealing with, "life-threatening wind chills in the Midwest that could lead to frostbite on exposed skin in a matter of minutes." And it's not just the middle of the country that is encountering these extremes—the East Coast is also being affected. The northeast will see its worst wind chills on Thursday morning, which could dip to negative 20 to negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here are some of the most fascinating images captured of the bone-chilling conditions so far.

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1 Minneapolis, Minnesota
polar vortex minnesota
Getty ImagesSTEPHEN MATUREN
2 Kenosha, Wisconsin
polar vortex wisconsin
Getty ImagesDylan Buell
3 Frederick, Maryland
polar vortex maryland
Getty ImagesThe Washington Post
4 Chicago, Illinois
polar vortex chicago
Getty ImagesScott Olson
5 Madison, Wisconsin
polar vortex wisconsin
Getty ImagesThe Washington Post
6 Detroit, Michigan
polar vortex michigan
Getty ImagesJEFF KOWALSKY
7 Chicago, Illinois
Polar Vortex Brings Extreme Cold Temperatures To Chicago
Getty ImagesScott Olson
8 New York, New York
polar vortex new york
Getty ImagesJOHANNES EISELE
9 Minneapolis, Minnesota
polar vortex minneapolis
Getty ImagesKEREM YUCEL
10 Toledo, Ohio

on

11 Chicago, Illinois

on

12 Minneapolis, Minnesota
polar vortex minnesota minneapolis
Getty ImagesKEREM YUCEL
13 Saint Charles, Illinois

on

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