What is the Polar Vortex and Why is it in the News?

Ever heard the weatherman mention the polar vortex and wondered what it is? You're not alone! This web story will break down the science behind this icy phenomenon and why it's sometimes making headlines.

The polar vortex is a giant low-pressure area that spins around the Earth's poles, trapping frigid air. It's always there, but it gets stronger in the winter and weakens in the summer. Think of it like a giant bowl of cold air!

 The jet stream is a fast-moving current of air high in the atmosphere. Normally, it acts like a barrier, keeping the polar vortex's cold air up north. But sometimes, the jet stream weakens or wobbles.

When the jet stream weakens or gets disrupted, the polar vortex can wobble or even break apart. This allows blasts of frigid air to plunge southward, bringing unusually cold weather to areas not used to it.

 Recent news reports might mention the polar vortex because it can cause extreme cold snaps, with temperatures dropping well below normal. This can be dangerous, leading to health risks and disruptions to daily life.

 Scientists are still researching how climate change might affect the polar vortex. Some studies suggest a weaker jet stream due to warming could lead to more frequent polar vortex outbreaks.

 If you hear about the polar vortex in the news, be sure to check the forecast for your area. Stay warm and take precautions if a cold snap is expected!