Polar Vortex May Return for Winter of 2016-2017: How to Prepare
You probably don’t want to read this story, but you should. It’s always better to prepare for these things by, say, wrapping yourself in heat tape or — completely serious now — making sure your car battery is charged before you get caught out in the deadly cold. So here is the brutal, cold truth: The northeastern United States may be in for another polar vortex weather system that could send temperatures into the record books in late winter and early spring.
And you probably don’t need to be reminded of the bone-chilling nightmare that was the winter of 2013-2014, when record low temperatures extended well into March. It was cold everywhere, and on Jan. 7, 2014, the temperature in every state in the country dipped below 32 degrees, even in Hawaii, where it was 25 degrees. At least 33 deaths were blamed on the record cold.
AccuWeather meteorologist Dean DeVore said it looks like the area could get a one-two punch from a couple of vortices.
“If you really delve deep into it there’s actually a couple of vortices,” DeVore told WWJ/CBS Detroit. “One’s in the lower level of the atmosphere, one’s in the higher levels. All of that — part and partial — looks like there’s a shift in one of the polar vortices that is expected to happen going into this winter.”
Polar vortices often mean colder temperatures in February and March. Though he expects some periods of extreme cold, DeVore thinks a bigger effect on winter weather will be the change from an El Niño to a mild La Niña system, which is occurring now and is expected to result in a colder, snowier winter in Metro Detroit, a departure from the last couple of years.
What is a Polar Vortex?
Though the term was only popularized in recent years, polar vortices aren’t anything new. The National Weather Service explains that a polar vortex — a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles — always exists but weakens in the summers and strengthens in the winter.