We’ve been hearing about it in the news all week. The Polar Vortex is what they are saying brought us those frigid below zero temperatures across the country earlier this week. No doubt this is the coldest we’ve seen it in a very long time.
So what is a Polar Vortex?
Actually, the expression “polar vortex” can be found in a nineteenth-century periodical —Littell’s Living Age—in October 1853. The scientific term also made the American Meteorological Society’s “Glossary of Meteorology” (1956).
The polar vortex resides over both poles year-round, but expands in the cold season as daylight all but vanishes around the Arctic and Antarctic Circles. Normally, it’s a stable gyre, but occasionally the winds surrounding the Arctic (arctic jet stream) slow down, allowing this huge mound of bitterly cold air to dip southward into the northern United States, northern Europe and northern Asia in the wintertime. Northerly winds propel frigid air far to the south—airstreams that would otherwise be more or less locked up in the Canadian Arctic and tundra regions of the world.
Polar vortices are weaker during summer and strongest during winter. Individual vortices can persist for more than a month. Extra tropical cyclones that occlude and migrate into higher latitudes create cold-core lows within the polar vortex. Volcanic eruptions in the tropics lead to a stronger polar vortex during the winter for as long as two years afterwards. The strength and position of the cyclone shapes the flow pattern across the hemisphere of its influence.
Fortunately, they say visitations of the polar vortex are relatively infrequent-once a decade or so they say. So hopefully we won’t have to deal with these types of temperatures in upcoming winters for a long time. Keep warm during these frigid temperatures. By the weekend we will be looking at 50’s again.
Source info: Wikipedia and Weather Channel
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