Polar Vortex in February 2016

Polar Vortex To Bring ‘Coldest Air In A Decade’ To Northeast U.S. This Weekend

If you happen to be a resident of the northeastern United States, you might want to get ready to experience the coldest temperatures recorded in your area for over a decade — all thanks to a polar vortex. According to the National Weather Service, millions of Americans across the northeast would bear the brunt of a “life threatening” icy blast that is expected to hit the area on Saturday. The worst, however, is forecast for Sunday when the effects of the polar vortex-induced cold air would be at its peak.

In more bad news for people planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day, a press release issued by the National Weather Service reads, “A cold front sweeping across the Great Lakes will continue to allow for moderate to locally heavy lake effect snowfall the next few days. An additional 6 to 10 inches of snow may be possible in the favorable downwind areas of the Great Lakes as westerly and northwesterly flow across the lakes results in very localized heavy snow bands.”

It further adds, “Strong surface high pressure nudging into the Central U.S. today will allow for temperatures 10 to 20 degrees colder than normal to continue across the Northern Plains and into the Midwest.”

The release also went on to add that parts of Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic, and the northeast could experience afternoon high temperatures that would be 20 to 30 degrees below normal. The situation would be compounded with extremely gusty winds that would cause dangerously cold wind chills overnight, an NBC News report said.

Several cities in the region would be staring at subzero temperatures. While Boston is expected to hit a low of -2 degrees, several other cities facing much colder temperatures include -9 in Hartford, Connecticut, -10 for Albany and between -10 to -11 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Even New York would not be spared with the city expected to hover around the 2-degree mark on Saturday. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, temperatures would hover around -7 while Chicago could go down to -2. Some areas of the Great Lakes could see between 8 to 10 inches of snow across the weekend.

According to Michael Palmer, the lead forecaster for the Weather Channel, the weather in several areas across the U.S. during the weekend would be similar to “walking into a freezer.”

He says, “For people stepping outside on Sunday morning, it’s going to be like walking into a freezer. This will be the coldest air for more than a decade for much of the Northeast.”

The conditions in several areas could lead to severe frostbite, followed by hypothermia or death if people do not take precautions.

This is not the first time we have heard of a polar vortex causing temperatures to dip across the U.S. Last year, the Inquisitr reported about the same phenomenon bringing extremely cold weather to several areas in the country. That said, the vortex would not have any effect on the western part of the country, with temperatures in California and Arizona expected to hover between the 80s and 90s.

If you’re still wondering what a polar vortex is, here is a brief explanation. Contrary to popular notion, polar vortex are not observed just during winter. According to the National Weather Service, the polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles, and it always exists near the poles. It tends to weaken during summers and strengthens in winter. At times, the polar vortex in the northern hemisphere expands and sends a stream of cold air towards the south, resulting in a cold wave. In the past, the polar vortex has hit the U.S. in 2014, 1977, 1982, 1985, and 1989.

So, are you prepared for this year’s polar vortex-induced cold?

[Image via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons]