What is a polar vortex you might ask? To be quite honest I’m not sure there is an actual standardized and accepted definition for the term polar vortex. I first came across the term polar vortex while reading a news article about the newly named winter storm systems that have recently played a role in burying several American cities under huge deposits of snow. Polar vortex appears to be a new part of the parlance associated with describing wild winter weather patterns.
Winter, and the weather it brings, are nothing to shrug off as insignificant, and the use of terms such as polar vortex, and the naming of winter storms, appear to be the preferred method of bringing attention and awareness to a potentially life threatening situation. While this polar vortex is only expected to be severe for a period of a few days, the long term effects could extend throughout the rest of the winter season, keeping average temperatures at, or below normal levels.
“As much of the country digs out from a powerful winter storm that buried parts of the Northeast, tundra-like temperatures are poised to deliver a rare and potentially dangerous blow to the Midwest, with forecasters predicting a near-record or historic cold outbreak.
The “polar vortex,” as one meteorologist calls it, is expected to send cold air piled up at the North Pole down to the U.S., funneling it as far south as the Gulf Coast and driving temperatures below freezing for most of the nation.
Forecasters expect a weekend warm-up in some areas before temperatures plunge again, sending wind chill temperatures in areas in North Dakota and Minnesota to minus 50 degrees by Saturday night.
Those states are notorious for their cold winters, but states in the Mid-Atlantic and New England can also expect wind chill temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees.
Sunday’s playoff game in Green Bay could be among one of the coldest NFL games ever played. Temperatures at Lambeau Field are expected to be a frigid minus 2 degrees when the Packers and San Francisco 49ers kick off, and by the fourth quarter it’ll be a bone-chilling minus 7, with wind chills approaching minus 30, according to the National Weather Service. Officials are warning fans to take extra safety measures to stay warm including dressing in layers and sipping warm drinks.
Warming centers opened around the region, homeless shelters saw larger crowds and cities took special measures to look after those most vulnerable to the cold. Outreach teams were searching New York City streets for homeless people at risk of freezing to death.
And though this cold spell will last just a few days as warmer air comes behind, it likely will freeze over the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, meaning frigid temperatures will likely last the rest of winter, said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for Weather Bell.
“It raises the chances for future cold,” he said, adding it could include next month’s Super Bowl in New York.”
As we move forward through the rest of this winter season, and those in the future, named winter storms, and terms like polar vortex, are going to become more commonplace. We cannot prevent such things as a polar vortex, but we can prepare and survive them when they occur.
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.