Monday, February 24, 2014

Winter's Back, But Shut Up About The "Polar Vortex" It's Not The "In" Thing, OK?"

After a brief hiatus, winter is back across much of the eastern half of the country and it's going to stick around for awhile.
At least Mad Magazine had some
fun with the "polar vortex" craze
and stupidity of this winter.  

A persistent weather pattern, with a big ridge of high pressure over the West Coast, or over British Columbia and Alaska in this case, is directing cold Arctic air toward the United States and will continue to do so all week.

This weather pattern has been more or less stuck like this since November. Gawd, it almost seems like it's permanent. Let's hope not.

Speaking of hope, I'm really hoping people shut up about the "Polar Vortex" already.

Since January, when the term got popular, every hint of wintry weather has some people jumping up and down about the Polar Vortex, as if it were some big weird scary monster that just formed this winter and is going to destroy the planet.

Just relax, OK.

So we're on the same page, let's review: The Polar Vortex is a gyre of spinning cold air high up in the atmosphere, usually somewhere near the North Pole. It's too high up in the air to affect us directly, but if it's overhead, or anywhere near us, it's probably colder than usual.

This Polar Vortex is almost always somewhere up around there in the north. It is a very normal thing, and it has been known to weather experts for many, many decades.

It's part of Meteorology 101, really.

Sometimes, the Polar Vortex moves abnormally south, or a piece of it breaks off and sends cold air plunging into places like the United States or Europe. Again, this is completely normal weather behavior and is not a sign of the Apocalypse or anything like that.

People got excited in early January because the Polar Vortex slipped south far enough to graze the northern United States. That far southward slip of the vortex was slightly unusual, but certainly not unprecedented. It has happened many times before

Our close brush with the Polar Vortex in January got everybody, especially in social media, into a tizzy. Now, the term Polar Vortex is a cliche, and gets mentioned every time it gets kind of cold.

Stop it already!

This week, the Polar Vortex is in Canada, where it belongs. It is slightly south of its usual position, and the jet stream is working partly in tandem with the vortex to bring us our colder than normal weather this week.

The only bit of good news is we're getting toward March, so while temperatures are going to be as far below normal as the were during some of the January cold snaps, normal has gotten warmer, so the cold waves have, too.

It'll be uncomfortable out there, but not 40 below.

Here in Vermont, expect high temperatures all week to run in the teens to around 20, and nighttime lows will bottom out within a few degrees either side of zero.

I don't see any big snowstorms anytime soon, but light snowfalls will come through from time to time, especially in the mountains.

I don't see any signs through mid-March in which we'll have any long spells of warm weather. There might be a warm day thrown in there once in awhile, but for the most part, it will stay wintry for a few more weeks.

Blame who you want for that, as long as you don't start screaming "Polar Vortex," OK?

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