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The US Polar Vortex of 2019

This last part of January 2019, is predicted to see extremely cold temperatures gripping much of the US and weather forecasters are calling it a polar vortex.

A few years ago, the US experienced a tremendous blast of cold air that gripped most of the nation and they called that a polar vortex, too. The problem is that it wasn’t a polar vortex back then, despite very low temperatures.

A polar vortex is when Arctic cold air temporarily shifts south as if the air in the Arctic Circle has tilted. For a polar vortex to exist, one part of the globe must experience very below average temperatures while the part of the globe that is exactly the opposite must experience substantially above average temperatures. Otherwise, the cold air hasn’t tilted. 

The last time they talked about a polar vortex, the US experienced temperatures that were quite a bit below normal. However, while that was happening, northern Europe and Asia were also experiencing temperatures that were well below average. Therefore, it wasn’t a polar vortex. The air didn’t shift or tilt. It was an expansion of cold air, but wasn’t a vortex, though some people tried to claim that it was.

This time around, it is a minor polar vortex, though. The northern half of the country can expect temperatures that are below 0 F. Meanwhile, northern Europe is basking in warm temperatures that are from about 19 F to freezing. This is a little bit above average for northern Europe and Asia this time of year.

In other words, it is an expansion of the cold air, just as happened a few years ago, but it is also a bit of a tilting of the cold air as well. The cold air won’t reach as far south as it did during the last abrupt cold, though, so any tilting of Arctic air is fairly slight. It also isn’t likely to last more than a few days. Still, many places will most likely have the coldest temperatures they’ve experienced in 20 years.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. And President Trump apparently thinks that an extremely cold snap is proof that there’s no such thing as global warming! In point of fact, it could well be global warming that is the root cause of the current phenomenon.

    • Or it could be global cooling or any number of other things. The truth is that nobody knows. What we don’t know so far exceeds what we do know that it is something akin to an ant explaining the function of a jet rocket to another ant.

      • The science of climate change and the accompanying warming phenomenon is now firmly established after decades of observations and analysis by thousands of highly qualified people across the world. It only seems to be a handful of maverick Americans (mainly) who still doubt what is staring everyday else in the face.

        • Being “firmly established” doesn’t make it correct. It was firmly established that the earth was flat. It was firmly established that the earth was the center of the universe and that everything revolved around it.

          Climate change is a fact, simply because the climate is dynamic and not static. It has been changing since the earth had an atmosphere. Global cooling is also climate change. We also know that nearly all of our climate comes from the sun and that solar output isn’t steady. As for ‘maverick’ Americans, that includes quite a few American and European and Asian scientists, such as astronomers, physicists, chemists, and geologists.

          Never-the-less, this article doesn’t support global warming theories OR global cooling theories. Rather, the article is an explanation of what a polar vortex is and that this one is a weak polar vortex while the last time, it wasn’t a polar vortex. A polar vortex has to do with weather rather than climate.

          • Extreme weather events are part of the evidence for climate change.

            I agree – climate has changed ever since Planet Earth has had an atmosphere, but the evidence for anthropocentric change leading to global warming is now so overwhelming that hardly anyone who is not being paid to have a contrary view has one.

            I agree – there are other factors that affect climate. However, these have all been factored into the models that seek to explain current temperature rises, and the figures simply don’t add up if you only allow for possible non-human causes.

            Climate scientists would loved to be proved wrong – because that is how scientific method works – but try as they might, they cannot come up with alternative explanations.

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