Get ready for a “Wild Winter” experts say

In a satellite image provided by NOAA, of North America on Jan. 30, 2019, as the polar vortex blew over the Midwest and Great Lakes region. Rough winter weather is working its way across the United States, with bitterly cold air hitting the Northeast and snowstorms expected along the East Coast next week. (NOAA via The New York Times) -- EDITORIAL USE ONLY --

Rough winter weather is working its way across the United States, with bitterly cold air hitting the Northeast and snowstorms expected along the East Coast next week.

Forecasts predict Chicago can expect several inches of snow. And 6 to 8 inches of snow could fall along the I-95 corridor from Washington through New York and up to Boston on Monday and Tuesday.

“Finally, winter’s made an appearance here in the Northeast,” said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations for the National Weather Service’s weather prediction center.

Disturbances to the upper-atmosphere phenomena known as the polar vortex can send icy blasts from the Arctic into the middle latitudes, chilling Europe, Asia and parts of North America. The disturbance and its effects have persisted for an unusually long time this year, said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, with two disruptions of the polar vortex so far this year and potentially a third on the way.

Research into the interplay of the complex factors that bring on blasts from the polar vortex is ongoing, but climate change appears to be part of the mix. While warming means milder winters overall, “the motto for snowstorms in the era of climate change could be ‘Go big or go home!’ said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a company that provides information to clients about weather and climate-related risk.

The United States has already seen heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and in the Great Plains in the last week. Earlier this month, Madrid was buried under a paralyzing foot and a half of snow, and parts of Siberia suffered an unusually lengthy cold spell with temperatures of 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit — and one area recorded a temperature of nearly 73 below. (Last summer, some of the same areas experienced record heat.)

The wild weather has its origins in the warming Arctic. The region is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and research suggests that the rising temperatures are weakening the jet stream, which encircles the pole and generally holds in that frigid air. In early January, a surge of sudden warming hit the polar stratosphere, a zone 5 to 30 miles above the surface of the planet.

Source: Yahoo News

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