There's cold, and then there's polar cold

A lone Connecticut College student makes his way through the freshly fallen snow on Temple Green in single digit temperatures on the Connecticut College campus in New London Wednesday Jan. 21, 2014.
A lone Connecticut College student makes his way through the freshly fallen snow on Temple Green in single digit temperatures on the Connecticut College campus in New London Wednesday Jan. 21, 2014. Tim Cook/The Day

If you can't stand the cold, head to Anchorage, Alaska, because it's warmer there than here.

"It's absolutely crazy," Gary Lessor, a meteorologist with the Western Connecticut State University Weather Center, said Wednesday, a day that saw temperatures creep into the 20s. "It's 40 degrees in Alaska. Unfortunately, for the next two to three weeks, thanks to the polar vortex, we will be seeing temperatures way below normal."

Lessor said in layman's terms, the polar vortex simply means that the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere is locked in the northeast quarter of the country, making it unseasonably cold.

The snowstorm that began Tuesday afternoon and ended Wednesday morning brought about 8 inches in Groton, although Lessor said that accurate snowfall totals would be hard to figure because the wind compacted the fluffy snow.

The National Weather Service reported that Colchester received 7.5 inches of snow, Norwich 7 inches and
Ledyard about 6 inches.

Most school districts in the region closed in response to the overnight snow.

Jason Gallup, whose family owns Professional Grounds Maintenance in Waterford, was shoveling the sidewalk on Eugene O'Neill Drive in New London at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

He said his crew had been working almost nonstop since about 2 p.m. Tuesday. He said the fluffy snow is easy to shovel so it isn't terribly taxing on the back.

"This is about the eighth storm that we had to respond to," he said. "It's getting pretty tiring. I'm about done and looking forward to spring."

But Lessor said thanks to the polar vortex, winter will be long and drawn out and miserably cold, with temperatures at some points dipping below zero when the wind chill is factored in.

He said temperatures are running about 15 degrees below normal.

Today, we can expect a high of 20 degrees, but with the wind chill it will feel as low as minus 12 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

"This is the weather for southeastern Canada, not Connecticut," Lessor said. "It's just going to be extremely cold."

i.larraneta@theday.com

Alexis Fenton, 8, center, turns cartwheels at the base of the hill while taking advantage of a day off from school to go sledding with her mother,  Andrea Fenton of Old Lyme, left, and friend Makenna Harms, 8, at the Old Lyme Country Club Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 after the snow storm.
Alexis Fenton, 8, center, turns cartwheels at the base of the hill while taking advantage of a day off from school to go sledding with her mother, Andrea Fenton of Old Lyme, left, and friend Makenna Harms, 8, at the Old Lyme Country Club Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 after the snow storm. Dana Jensen/The Day
Shane Shortt of Caruso Piano Gallery shovels snow off of the store's roof as one of the musicians depicted in the
Shane Shortt of Caruso Piano Gallery shovels snow off of the store's roof as one of the musicians depicted in the "Songs of Our City" mural watches on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2014. Tim Cook/The Day
Jason Gallup, an employee of Professional Grounds Maintenance in Waterford, uses a shovel to clear the sidewalk on Eugene O'Neill Drive early Wednesday morning.
Jason Gallup, an employee of Professional Grounds Maintenance in Waterford, uses a shovel to clear the sidewalk on Eugene O'Neill Drive early Wednesday morning. Izaskun E. Larraņeta/ The Day
An employee of Professional Grounds Maintenance in Waterford uses a snow blower early Wednesday morning to clear the sidewalk on Eugene O'Neill Drive in New London.
An employee of Professional Grounds Maintenance in Waterford uses a snow blower early Wednesday morning to clear the sidewalk on Eugene O'Neill Drive in New London. Izaskun E. Larraņeta/ The Day
Tony Sheridan uses a snow blower to clear his neighbor's driveway  in Waterford after the snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.
Tony Sheridan uses a snow blower to clear his neighbor's driveway in Waterford after the snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Dana Jensen/The Day
Rick Radicioni uses a snow blower to clear his driveway  in Waterford after the snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.
Rick Radicioni uses a snow blower to clear his driveway in Waterford after the snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Dana Jensen/The Day
Members of the Connecticut College alpine ski team, Bram Diamond, right, of Newton, Mass., Colin Lang, center, of Chevy Chase, Md., and Parker Veroff, left, of Newton, Mass.,  walk back up the hill while they and other members of the team have some fun skiing a hill at the Connecticut College Arboretum in New London Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 after the snow storm.
Members of the Connecticut College alpine ski team, Bram Diamond, right, of Newton, Mass., Colin Lang, center, of Chevy Chase, Md., and Parker Veroff, left, of Newton, Mass., walk back up the hill while they and other members of the team have some fun skiing a hill at the Connecticut College Arboretum in New London Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 after the snow storm. Dana Jensen/The Day
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