Hello and welcome to another episode of “Weather Matters with Matthews.” With colder weather coming this week, now is a good time to talk about a weather phenomenon known as the polar vortex.
The term “polar vortex” has been popularized by forecasters recently. Therefore, it may sound like something new, but it is actually a weather feature that has always existed.
The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air. The vortex always surrounds the Earth’s poles, but weakens during the summer and strengthens during the winter. It is called a vortex because of the counter-clockwise rotation that keeps the colder air near the poles. Frequently in the wintertime, the polar vortex expands and brings colder air southward with the jet stream. This is associated with large outbreaks of arctic air, which usually occurs within the northern regions of the United States and portions of Europe and Asia.
When the word about a polar vortex is out, residents should prepare and dress up accordingly. Check the local forecast for any chances of wind chill watches or warnings if a polar vortex is present.