What is Polar Vortex?

The United States of America is shivering in a deadly cold snap known as a polar vortex. At least eight people have been killed in several states as a result of the Arctic weather. 

  • Temperatures fell to minus 30 degree Celsius in Chicago, colder than parts of Antarctica and minus 37 degree Celsius in North Dakota. More than 1,600 flights have been cancelled at Chicago airport.

What is Polar Vortex?

  • According to the National Weather Service of USA, the polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It ALWAYS exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter.
  • The term “vortex” refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles.
  • Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream. This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States. The one that occurred January 2014 is similar to many other cold outbreaks that have occurred in the past, including several notable colder outbreaks in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989.
  • Polar Vortex is not confined to the United States. Portions of Europe and Asia also experience cold surges connected to the polar vortex. By itself, the only danger to humans is the magnitude of how cold temperatures will get when the polar vortex expands, sending Arctic air southward into areas that are not typically that cold.

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