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Published:January 13th, 2014 12:29 EST
Just Another Cold Day? Or An Extreme Polar Vortex?

Just Another Cold Day? Or An Extreme Polar Vortex?

By Ron G Anselm

Hanging out in Extreme Cold Air is like a nagging Mother in Law; "The longer you hang out around it the colder you get. (Anselm, R.)

And this is so true with the extreme cold air or what is known in science as a Polar Vortex. Now, I have trained and been out in some extreme cold conditions in my lifetime, whether it was combat training in Germany near the Russian Front at Reforger, one of our many field training exercises in the Army where it was so cold out there we couldn`t break ground to put up tents. Pick axes could not even dent the frozen ground so we had to find anywhere we could to try to stay out of the below zero elements that felt like I was a piece of meat hanging in a meat locker. Or, rescuing someone in the North Atlantic during my tenure in the Coast Guard during a winter Nor`easter where the snow, wind and waves cut you sharper than a knife and leave you hanging out to dry (as a matter of speaking) but I can say this last science and weather phenomenon that hit us last week seemed colder to me than any of my past times I have bit the frost and hung out in extreme cold weather conditions in my past but this seemed to be one of the coldest I have ever been in before.

Maybe, because I have been in Alabama the past ten years where normally the winter may get as cold as high 30`s and my blood was a little too thin for any colder than that conditions or maybe I just hate cold weather. Who knows but I can tell you I hated last week when the temperature was a whopping eight degrees in Birmingham when I got up to go to work early last week. My car didn`t warm up until I actually pulled in the parking lot of my job. It was just that cold here.  They to my knowledge have never seen temperatures in Alabama dip this low. Heck, I even saw one of the Canadian Geese that frequent all around this area wearing a parka, snow hat and boots it was so cold due to the Polar Vortex that hit us.

So, everyone probably wonders what is a Polar Vortex. In science terms it is a "polar cyclone" which is normally located at either of the planet`s geographical North and South poles. The vortex or vortices" are located in the center of the upper troposphere and the stratosphere. They surround the polar highs and lie in the wake of the polar front. These cold-core low-pressure areas strengthen in the winter and weaken in the summer due to their reliance upon the temperature changes that occur between the equator and the poles. They usually span less than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) across in which the air is circulating in a counter-clockwise fashion (in the Northern Hemisphere). As with other cyclones, their rotation is caused by the Coriolis Effect.

The vortex located in the Aortic which is in the Northern Hemisphere has two centers which one of those centers is located near Baffin Island and the other one is in Northeast Siberia. On the other side of the planet in the Southern Hemisphere the vortex moves but mostly tends to be located near the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. When the polar vortex is strong or coldest the westerly`s increase in strength and when the polar cyclone is weak the general flow pattern across many latitudes collapse and extreme cold outbreak occurs which is what just happened last week. The polar vortex also affects the ozone layer which it causes the ozone layer to deplete.

The bad news is I read they are predicting the possibility of another Polar Vortex to hit us later next week. I don`t think this one will move as far South as the last one but if it does hit us once again I am sure it will be just as cold if not colder.

So, whether you are hanging around your nagging Mother-in-Law or are hanging out waiting on the morning bus to pick you up to go to work during a cold polar Vortex, the result is going to be the same you are either going to get colder to your nagging Mother-in-Law or you are going to get colder to every core of your body as that frigid cold penetrates you as if you were naked standing in a frozen meat locker. Stay warm and stay in that toasty house of yours while you sip that hot Brandy and watch those Canadian Geese look back at you from outside in that frozen air with that look of Man, this sucks, it`s cold out here, can we come in with you? "


Polar Vortex, Wikipedia, ( Retrieved 2014.

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