Polar Vortex

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The Polar Vortex. Big headline in newscasts not so long ago. Remember the winters of 20-13 and 14, and 20-14 and 15? But it’s not new. The phrase was first used in 1853 and the polar vortex has been around a lot longer than that.

The Polar Vortex is a large area of low pressure around the poles. Vortex refers to the counterclockwise rotation of air keeping the cold near the poles. Often times this polar air is unleashed and heads south. When it hits the midwest it looks ominous and feels frigid. Just about everything freezes and record cold is widespread. This is caused by Sudden Stratospheric Warming.

Warm air warms further desending over the pole, distrupting things. Westerly winds turn easterly, the jet stream buckles and parts of the country get blasted with polar air.

Determining where the arctic air settles is challenging. We’ve been seeing hints of the polar vortex slamming our area for a couple of weeks, but each day the change gets pushed back. So, will the remainder of January see the vortex hit or will it get pushed into February?

Right now the coldest air is moving over Europe. Russian with 60-below temperatures this past week. The vortex basically, has split, for now. So the coldest polar air is far from the U.S..

If it does hit us this winter, you’ll know.

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