>> In past few days the words ‘Polar Vortex’ and ‘arctic blast’ are trending in news and social media all over. Weather experts are arguing about the expansion of Arctic cold air and the beginning of ‘global cooling’ on earth. However it is debatable as what it has to do with the climate change.
>> So what really is the ‘Polar Vortex’ and how does it occur? A Polar Vortex is an enormous system of strong and swirling air normally moving counter clock wise around the northern pole, usually in two areas: Canada's Baffin Island and northeast Siberia. It generally contains polar cold air, otherwise known as a polar low-pressure system.
>> The wind within the vortex is the locking system that hinders the bitter cold air to spread beyond the Arctic Circle. But occasionally the polar vortex takes a break and leaves the Northern Hemisphere and starts moving toward south. And once the vortex is distorted it generates a jet stream which moves towards the southern latitudes and brings along the bone-chilling Arctic air.
>> The Polar Vortex cannot be classified as an ice storm as it can get distorted and plunge farther south spilling cold air all across. Otherwise known as the Arctic Oscillation, the Vortex has an inclination of bringing in major cold outbreaks on its way. This is the reason why people are perhaps experiencing sort of ‘Ice age’ in US and Canada.
>> The polar vortex generally affects places that come under the Northern Hemisphere including North America, Europe and Asia. Once the Vortex is anchored, the upper-level disturbance merges and starts dipping towards the south west and therefore unleashes an ‘Arctic blast’ towards South and East. And once it completely sets in, the central, southern and eastern parts of the US turns into a deep freeze.
>> Weather experts categorically warn people to keep themselves indoor as the temperature can nosedive way below sub-zero and the air chill too can reach -60 degree. Such extreme weather can freeze bare skin within 5 minutes which is why people are being advised to wear layers of clothing while venturing outside.
>> The combination of bitter cold air and strong winds will generate low wind chill resulting in frostbite and also causes hypothermia or death. Frostbite commonly affects the fingers, toes, ear lobes and the nose while in separate cases it leads to amputation of limbs if not treated in time.
>> Bone-chilling wind can also cause hypothermia where the body temperature dives down to lowest and freezes the heart. The bitter wind chill turns the air fatally chilling and cools thing really fast though it takes time to freeze. Mostly animals and bird fall prey to the unusually cold climate.
>> Extreme cold condition can also damage car batteries and can decrease the battery life of mobile phones.
>> Deep freeze condition can also cause power outage and water pipes to get frozen and then burst adding to woos of the people and the administration. The stubborn cold weather has resulted in cancellation of more than 1000 flights apart from hindering the bus and rail services.
>> Experts are arguing about whether the event is a side effect of global warming or not as the ‘Arctic blast’ is a result of an extreme distortion of the jet stream resulting in wider areas getting the cold pinch. But the ‘Polar Vortex’ never lasts long as it tends to return home back to the Northern Hemisphere.