Polar Vortex


The ‘hot’ news for the last few weeks has been the polar vortex affecting the central United States. The big question is - what exactly is a polar vortex, and why is it making it so cold? The answer is actually pretty simple.

The upper atmosphere of the Earth contains many persistent weather systems that create our global weather patterns. Some of these systems, like the jet stream, are well known to most people in North America. Others, like the polar vortexes, are just as common even though they don’t come up as much.

Around the north and south poles, the upper atmosphere maintains a huge circular wind column. This vortex holds the cold air present at the poles within a defined space. Basically, it keeps cold polar air from blowing off the poles into warmer climates.

Occasionally, the polar vortex will deform in shape. This deformation can come from any number of triggers, but it is generally related to an unusually low pressure system merging with the vortex. This extends the boundaries of the polar air, bringing extremely cold temperatures far away from home.

This cold air is often extremely dry, so it doesn’t necessarily mean snow and ice. When the polar vortex merges with wet air, the results are ice and snow that coat every surface. Within the time it takes to go to the store, and certainly after a day at work, your car could easily be buried. To keep this ice from building up on your wipers, make sure you use Everblades® heated windshield wipers. Their dual-heating system separately melts ice from the squeegee and the wiper arm, keeping your wipers safe and clean.

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