Parts of the Midwest are colder than Antarctica due to a polar vortex. Can you guess which photo was taken where?

  • The polar vortex is causing subzero temperatures in parts of the Midwest.
  • Cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois have reported temperatures colder than those currently in Antarctica.
  • The freezing Midwest looks a bit like the South Pole in photos. Can you tell them apart?

The Midwest continues to experience record-breaking subzero temperatures due to the polar vortex – an area of circulating cold air that rings the planet’s North and South poles.

Cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois have reported temperatures colder than Antarctica, the planet’s southernmost continent.

Granted, it is summer in Antarctica right now. Average wintertime temperatures in the South Pole are more like minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

But temperatures in the Midwest are some of the coldest ever reported for the region, and the National Weather Service said Minneapolis, Minnesota, did drop to Antarctic winter levels at -50 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill factored in.

With all of the snow, ice, and freezing wind, the Midwest is starting to look a bit like the South Pole in photos. Can you tell which is which?


Is this frozen body of water in Antarctica or the Midwest?

Dylan Buell/Getty ImagesAntarctica or the Midwest?

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Answer: It’s Lake Michigan off the coast of Chicago, Illinois.


Are these Arctic explorers or Midwesterners?

Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty ImagesAre they in Antarctica or the Midwest?

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Answer: These two are looking out over Lake Michigan in Chicago. Temperatures dropped to -20 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday.


What about this frozen selfie?

Scott Sears via Getty ImagesCan you tell where he is?

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Answer: That’s 26-year-old Lieutenant Scott Sears, the youngest person to reach the South Pole travelling solo in 2017 until the record was broken by 16-year-old Jade Hameister the following year. He snapped the selfie in Antarctica.


Is this observation deck in the South Pole or in the Midwest?

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Answer: It’s the frozen Chicago River in Illinois.


Are these Arctic penguins, or have they escaped from the Chicago zoo?

Kyodo News via Getty ImagesWhere do these penguins live?

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Answer: They are Adelie penguins who call the Antarctic Sea home.


Is this bird flying in Antarctica or in the Midwest?

Costfoto/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty ImagesWhat place is pictured?

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Answer: It’s in Antarctica.


Are these ice formations a product of the Arctic or the Midwest?

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Answer: It’s ice along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.


What about these ice formations?

Costfoto/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty ImagesAre these Arctic or Midwestern icicles?

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Answer: In Antarctica, even icebergs have icicles.


Is this person looking out at the Midwestern horizon or the Arctic?

Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty ImagesAre they in the Midwest or the Arctic?

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Answer: They’re watching steam hover above Lake Michigan.


Are these people taking photos in Antarctica or somewhere in the Midwest?

Kiichiro Sato/ GettyWhere was this photo taken?

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Answer: They’re on the icy shores of Lake Michigan.


Is this Lake Michigan or the Arctic Sea?

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Answer: This is Vincennes Bay in the Australian Antarctic Territory.


Is this person jogging in the Midwest, or in the Arctic tundra?

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesWhere is this person jogging?

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Answer: They’re jogging along the lakefront in Chicago.

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