BREAKING IT DOWN WITH BRITTNEY - THE POLAR VORTEX: It is simply a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It ALWAYS exists near the poles. The term "vortex" refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air hoovering near the Poles. A few times during winter the polar vortex will expand, shooting cold air southward with the jet stream into the U.S.
There are several things the polar vortex is NOT. They are not new, the term “polar vortex” has only recently been popularized, bringing attention to a weather feature that has always been present. It is also not a feature that exists at the Earth’s surface. Meteorologists examine the polar vortex by looking at conditions tens of thousands of feet up in the atmosphere; however, when we feel extremely cold air from the Arctic regions at Earth’s surface, it is sometimes associated with the polar vortex. This is not confined to the United States, portions of Europe and Asia also experience these cold surges. The only danger to humans during this, 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.
In short, there is no cause to be alarmed when you hear about the polar vortex, but you should be prepared for colder temperatures. Check the forecast for your area to ensure you are dressed appropriately. It is also a good idea to check the items in your home and car emergency kits at the beginning of each winter season to ensure you are prepared for any type of hazardous winter weather.
Here's a look at the cold snap headed our way by the weekend and into the beginning of February...