Polar vortex: It's about to get bitter cold across Canada
Polar vortex: It's about to get bitter cold across Canada

Polar vortex: It’s about to get bitter cold across Canada

The polar vortex is a permanent broad area of low pressure in the upper atmosphere near the poles. It is located a few miles above the surface of the earth and can be as large as the US and Canada combined.

The NASA satellite measured the atmospheric air temperatures from December 1 to 11, and shows the dark blue and purple cold air moving eastwards across northern US and Canada.

On December 7, the frigid temperatures had moved into the plains states and were travelling into Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. The cold is now moving from west to east, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a cold weekend, particularly for New England.

“That cold air shifted east on December 9 into the Ohio Valley and New England,” writes NASA.

“On December 11, another trough of cold air was sweeping down from Canada into the northern plains and is expected to bring very chilly temperatures over the north central and northeastern US on December 14 and 15.”

What is the polar vortex?

The polar vortex is an area of low pressure and cold air that swirls around both of the Earth’s poles like a wheel. Sometimes the polar vortex wobbles and a lobe surges south, blanketing portions of North America with bitter temperatures.

The chilly mass circulates around the North (and South) Pole all year long. In the winter, it weakens, sending cold air south with the jet stream.

The polar vortex lives high in the atmosphere and doesn’t bring snow or ice with it.

Is the polar vortex a new phenomenon?

While the record-breaking cold of January 2014 may have been the first time you heard about the polar vortex, the phenomenon itself has been around forever.


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