Related topics

Our view: We got through the Polar Vortex together

February 7, 2019 GMT

We’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: Minnesotans showed their true spirit during last week’s invasion by the Polar Vortex.

With temperatures that would send people in most other places into hibernation, folks in our region stepped up and out. They stepped up to help and stepped out to have some fun.

Everyone, from employers to business owners to citizens, made an effort to make sure all citizens were as safe as possible during the life-threatening cold.

Volunteers manned warming shelters for extended hours, providing meals and sanctuary.


Police kept an eye out for citizens who appeared to be in danger and shepherded them to a warm place of shelter.

First responders, as we have come to expect but don’t always appreciate, never shirked their duty, despite the unbearably cold conditions. People were rescued from stalled or overturned cars, and transported to safety.

Technicians worked around the clock in forbidding temperatures to help with frozen pipes and other hazards.

Don’t forget the thousands of medical personnel in the area who, despite the conditions, made it to their assigned shifts at local hospitals and clinics to care for others. Rochester, in particular, thrives on welcoming and caring for Mayo Clinic patients and visitors, and the community did itself proud in last week’s weather.

Of course, we plan ahead for this type of thing. Skyways, indoor passages from building to building, citizens willing to provide helpful advice and directions — it all comes with the territory of being one of the nation’s foremost medical centers in one of the nation’s least friendly winter climates.

Finally, keep in mind the local businesses that stepped forward to provide food and free warm drinks to shelters and customers alike.

But there was also some fun: The numerous experiments with boiling water thrown into 30 below zero air temperature; the frozen bananas pounding nails in wood; the beautiful photos of sun dogs shared online, and the cartoons poking fun at our imperturbability in the face of what Mother Nature throws at us.

And don’t forget the kids who got up at 4:30 a.m. last Thursday to play a hockey game outdoors — reported to be the coldest game ever played. You can’t beat that for fun and bragging rights.

By the way, when you looked at the map of record low temperatures from last week, did you notice that very few of them were in Minnesota?

Yes, we’ve been down this frozen road before. You never get used to 30 below, but you learn how to handle it.

Here in Minnesota, we handle a Polar Vortex by pulling together as one big community.