What is the Polar Vortex?


We hear the attention-grabbing headlines all the time, “the Polar Vortex is coming!” But do you really know what it is?

Even in the middle of Summer, the Polar Vortex is there. It never goes away. There happen to be two of them. One in the North Pole and one in the South Pole. 

“Polar” is for the region we’re referring to here. “Vortex” refers to the counterclockwise flow around the area. 

The Polar Vortex is an area of low pressure that holds some of the coldest air on the planet. When it weakens in the Winter, it allows lobes of incredibly cold and frigid air to drop down to the United States. it’s rare but not unusual and it’s what’s happening right now. 

But with the cold comes the warmth…

Looking at a map of what we call the temperature anomaly, or how much warmer or colder than normal the temperature is, the West Coast is much warmer. While the Midwest and the entire Eastern half of the country are incredibly cold due to the Polar Vortex influence. This is the Earth’s way of regulating itself. That’s basically all weather is… the Earth trying to normalize.

-Amber Wheeler, KX Storm Team 

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