Polar vortex brings to the US most extreme winter weather in years

From wind chills near 60 below zero in the Upper Midwest to an ice storm all the way to the Gulf Coast, it is rare that winter weather gets this extreme. The culprit is a polar vortex teaming up a very active jet stream.

That means cold, snow and ice for hundreds of millions of Americans.

On Saturday, more than two-thirds of the nation was under some kind of winter weather alert running the gamut from wind chill warnings in the northern Plains to winter storm warnings for the Pacific Northwest. There were also winter weather advisories in South Texas and ice storm warnings in the Mid-Atlantic.

 / Credit: CBS News
/ Credit: CBS News

A few weeks ago, the polar vortex, which is typically located near the North Pole, broke into pieces — a natural occurrence that happens every couple of winters. Smaller daughter vortices scattered around the Northern Hemisphere, bringing pockets of Arctic air to Siberia, Europe and North America.

For the past week, one of the daughter vortices has set up shop, spinning near the U.S.-Canada border. As a result, temperatures have been frigid, at times dropping below -40 degrees Fahrenheit, but the coldest of air has been confined to the far northern U.S. That’s about to change as lobes of the vortex rearrange its orientation, sending cold air south.

Amidst this extreme February pattern, one of the wildest #Fujiwhara interactions I’ve ever seen! pic.twitter.com/HzocSrUtme

— Stu Ostro (@StuOstro) February 12, 2021

Over the coming days the vortex will act as a catapult, slingshotting systems around it’s circulation, day after day, from coast to coast. As storms wind up, it will progressively draw the cold air further south.

By Sunday and Monday the bitter cold air currently over the Northern Plains will plunge to the heart of Texas, bringing with it wind chills below zero. The image below traces the origin of the cold air from the Arctic Ocean, down through Canada and southward through the U.S. Plains.

In case anyone was wondering where the cold air was coming from…..the Arctic.The Arctic is bringing the cold air.

Source: Yahoo News

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