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Warming In The Stratosphere: Busy Second Half Of Winter?

Second half of winter just keeps looking better and better. El Nino winter’s alone are notorious for second half winter fun for the country. And now we have another parameter to throw into place. Welcome to Polar Vortex!

“The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It ALWAYS exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter. The term “vortex” refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles. Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream. This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States. The one that occurred January 2014 is similar to many other cold outbreaks that have occurred in the past, including several notable colder outbreaks in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989.”

So what is going on is that we are see a potential major warming of the stratosphere near the polar region going into the New Year. So what does that mean and how in the world do we get cold air from a “Warming” event. Think of like a bath tub separated in half with one side of very cold water and one side very warm water. When introducing the warmer water to the very cold side what happens? The cold water gets displaced and in the atmosphere, that cold air sinks south which overall weakens and breaks down this cold vortex in the polar regions.

Sudden Stratospheric Warming events take time to do it’s thing. Typically 2-3 weeks before we can see the influence of the global weather pattern, but the effects can last for 1-2 months. As I have been mentioning or quite awhile now, we just have to be patient this winter. Second half of January into February keeps looking more and more interesting.

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