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What is a polar vortex anyway?

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While things have more or less returned to normal around the U.S. now that the Polar Vortex has gone back to the North Pole we can ask ourselves, "what the heck was that thing?" If you haven't really made up your mind what it was, welcome to the club. We certainly heard more than enough about it and some snippets of information actually made some sense. One meteorologist compared to it a "polar hurricane". Okay, that makes some sense given the high winds and intense precipitation. But most of the explanations had so much meteorological jargon that they might as well have been in Sanskrit.

Here's an excerpt from a Wikipedia article which didn't do much to clear things up for this writer: "A polar vortex (also known as a polar cyclone, polar low, or a circumpolar whirl[1] ) is a persistent, large-scale cyclone located near either of a planet's geographical poles. On Earth, the polar vortices are located in the middle and 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 differential between the equator and the poles.[2] They usually span less than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) 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." Gotcha.

But when it comes to earnestness combined with sheer incomprehensibility the attached video from the BBC may take the prize.



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