Chilly New Year 2014 in Uncle Sam’s Land? – If you are happily living in Mauritius or some other exotic island around the Equator and you felt bored enough to decide visiting your friends or relatives in USA / Canada to greet them in the New Year, you better closely keep abreast of the weather situation, before you head off to the airport to catch your flight.Consider the following crazy weather conditions being reported in the 1st week of the New Year across Northern America.
- 26 US States under Federal warnings for severe wind chills
- -32 degrees Fahrenheit in Fargo, N.D.; -21 degrees F in Madison, Wisc.; -15 degrees F in Chicago and Indianapolis
- Montana recording a record-making wind chill of -52C (-61F). More states can have wind chills below -60 F.
- Exposed skin, either hands or legs can catch a frostbite between 1 to 5 minutes of exposure under such conditions.
- Florida, the perpetually ‘sunny’ Southern state of USA has also been warned of wind chills nearing its borders.
- Such conditions are more typically seen at Mars during the night time from footage captured by the NASA Mars rover.
If you are still strong and resilient enough not to cancel your travel plans, better check with your Insurance company, if frost-bite is also covered.
From ‘Global Warming’ to ‘Polar Vortex’
All this while in the last 10 years, scientists have been warning from the roof-tops about ‘Global Warming’ and how the burning of all the fossil fuels is causing temperatures around the globe to heat up and melt the Arctic ice at a faster pace. So, what explanation do the same scientists have for this crazy, abnormal cold wind, which is blowing across Canada and the United States all the way to the south. Scientists (being human after all) always have a ready explanation for even the toughest question posed to them. This time the blame for this unusual freakish weather falls on ‘US Polar Vortex’.
Our normal readers caught up in so many of their usual daily activities, would hardly have time to look up the dictionary for this phenomenon called ‘Polar Vortex’, so we thought of talking a bit more about this here.
What is a Polar Vortex?
‘Polar Vortex’ is a prevailing wind pattern or a spinning wind, which circles the Arctic circle flowing from West to East all the way round the Earth around the North Pole. In normal weather conditions, this spinning wind has the beneficial effect of keeping the sub-zero air trapped around the North Pole, leaving only the Eskimos and the polar bears to deal with it. The key word here however is the word ‘Normal’.
In unusual circumstances, the ‘Polar Vortex’ can start weakening and that’s when the fun and games begin. Normal human beings living in North America or Eastern Europe will suddenly start getting the same taste of life that the Eskimos and Polar bears are used to. Let’s understand next why the ‘Polar Vortex’ weakens.
The Weakening of the ‘Polar Vortex’
The Weakening of the ‘Polar Vortex’ – is having more chaotic an effect on the northern parts of America and Europe than the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 (thanks to an icebreaker) due to the wide area it is spreading to. The minute the ‘Vortex’ starts to weaken the cold air, which usually hovers around the North Pole, starts getting pushed down through Canada and Northern parts of USA to further parts in the South and even in Europe to eastern parts of Europe. In addition to the cold air, the ‘Vortex’ can also propel the jet-stream (the band of wind flowing across the Pacific Ocean) much further south than where it ends up. If the jet stream puts up a fight to its propelling force, it results in the heavy moisture it carries falling down as snow. The ‘Snowmageddon’ storm which shut down Washington in 2010 winter, was caused by this as well.
Next question to ask is – Why or what causes the weakening of the ‘Polar Vortex’.
One explanation is by the natural changes in climate that occur in the Arctic in winter, including the North Atlantic Oscillation that has a dominant impact on wind patterns and storm tracks in the region. But, the other possibility is a more interesting and pondering thought. Due to ‘Global Warming’, more and more ice is melting in the Arctic in the Summer. The more ice melts, the warmer gets the Arctic Ocean. The ocean radiates all the heat it collects in the summer back to the ‘Polar Vortex’ in winter causing the vortex to get unbalanced and weakened.
Data taken over the past decade indicate that when a lot of Arctic sea ice disappears in the summer, the vortex has a tendency to weaken over the subsequent winter, if related atmospheric conditions prevail over the northern Atlantic Ocean. The forecast is grim, as more and more summer ice is vanishing. More trouble in store for the ‘Polar Vortex’ and more frigid conditions in affected areas a contradiction to ‘Global Warming’. However, the phenomenon of ‘Global Weird Weather’ or climate change continues and so does the race against the clock to stop it. If you know of any cheap Insurance company, which covers Frostbite let me know?