The Polar Vortex Pounds Again

David Vavrinak, Junior Staff Reporter

Recently across the United States, large winter storms have affected millions. These repeating cold waves haveimagesCAXKAP9B officially been categorized as a “Polar Vortex”, which is defined by as “a persistent, large-scale cyclone located near either of a planet’s geographical poles.”

The first winter weather storm formed over Canada and the USA on January 2nd of this year, off of a nor’easter, combining with the already cold winter temperatures in the Northern United States. This storm, which closed schools all across the country,  has resulted in $5 billion in damages, and is responsible for 21 confirmed deaths (mostly due to car accidents because of poor travel conditions.) This first storm also brought record-low  temperatures throughout the states, including temperatures that bottomed out below the North Pole.

Even more interestingly, this storm created temperatures in Canada that are comparable to temperatures on Mars! Scientists estimate that over 200 million people throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico were affected by this first storm. Over 3,600 flights were cancelled just on January 6th alone, and several thousand others throughout its existence. This first polar vortex officially dissipated on the 11th of January, 2014, though an article on warned to “hold off on putting away your winter gear”, as another polar vortex formed.

Meteorologists were correct in their predictions as this second storm hit, now followed by a third significant event on Monday evening, January 27th.  For the third time this month, a blast of frigid air hit cities, giving  temperatures as low as 9 degrees in New York on Tuesday — which, thanks to strong winds, felt like minus-10 to minus-15, according to the New York Post online. Blame it all (again) on the polar vortex, which gave folks in the Midwest wind-chill factors of minus-40 on Monday.

A New York AccuWeather meteorologist explains: “The polar vortex has been hanging around southern Canada in recent weeks,”  states Alex Sosnowsky. “Normally, it likes to hang out around the Arctic Circle.”   That’s one reason, he said, we’ve had recent warmer winters. “But about every 10 years, it goes the other way — and this is a classic example,” Sosnowsky added. “It’s Mother Nature’s way of trying to balance things out.”

Schools will be trying to balance out the loss of instructional time as many districts are being forced to use up their disaster days.  Parents may be complaining, but one thing is certain, students are enjoying this extra time off even though they may be house bound due to the cold.