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What is a polar vortex?

TNS Regional News • Jan 8, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Weather often dominates conversations in Ohio, and with the region experiencing record low temperatures Monday and Tuesday, the frigid cold is now the hot topic.

One term that is surfacing in weather conversations is the “polar vortex,” and while the term may be new for many, the phenomenon has always been around.

The polar vortex is a large, perpetual low pressure system that sits typically over the north polar region, creating a large pocket of very cold air. The vortex is at its strongest during winter, weakening but not dissipating during the summer months.

This vortex, containing some of the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere, was pushed to the south because of a very powerful high pressure system stretching from the eastern Pacific to the north pole. This brought the vortex much farther south than usual, according to AccuWeather.com.

“The polar vortex moves around at times during the course of the winter, but rarely do you see it pushed this far south,” meteorologist Brett Anderson told AccuWeather.com.

Because of this, long-standing low temperature records are being shattered, with Monday’s low of -14 beating out the date’s previous record low of -5, set 55 years ago. Tuesday’s low of -15 eclipsed the previous record of -13, set back in 1970.

“It was still 13 below at 7 o’clock this morning,” weather observer Guy Verhoff said. “This definitely set a recrod. It’s warmed up since then, but we have to watch how we use that word.”

The good news? A reprieve is on its way as AccuWeather.com is forecasting sunny skies and a high of 40 degrees for Saturday, with rain and a high of 45 for Sunday.

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By Craig Kelly - The Lima News, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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