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What is the Polar Vortex?

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

We’re fewer than two weeks out from the official start of winter, and weather patterns are already starting to get crazy. We’ve had freezes, whiteouts and this weekend we’re somehow spiking up past 60 degrees. Western New York keeps you on your toes!

One weather pattern that you might start hearing about again soon is the dreaded “polar vortex.” While it sounds like something out of a disaster movie, the polar vortex has been around forever and is relatively simple to understand.

Put simply, the “polar vortex” is just a large system of cold, low pressure air. It’s nothing new – it always exists near the poles of the Earth. Occasionally, this vortex expands and mingles with the jet stream, resulting in a migration of cold air to the south.

When this cold air makes its way to the United States, that’s when we start hearing about the polar vortex on the news. Usually, this surge of cold air results in a brief cold snap, which may encourage severe winter weather as well.

In short, don’t sweat the polar vortex. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon that’s been around forever. Just bundle up and stay warm this winter.

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