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A Polar Vortex Winter

Contributed by James Bria, CCM, CompuWeather Sr. Forensic Meteorologist, Weather Expert & Certified Consulting Meteorologist

The polar vortex has been discussed in great lengths this past winter due to the abnormally cold and snowy conditions that many locations experienced. The polar vortex is normal and exists over the North Pole every winter. The difference during the winter of 2013-2014 was the location and the strength of the vortex. The vortex this past winter season was actually weaker than normal, which allowed pieces of very cold air from the vortex to move further south than normal. This resulted in much colder than normal temperatures for most of the past winter. There has been much discussion on the reason for the strength and placement of this vortex with some suggestions that the milder arctic winters are the driving force of this change. There remains a lot of uncertainty about if this was a short term anomaly or the beginning of a longer term trend. At this point there are no clear answers. All that we can do is just wait and see what trends start to develop next winter and beyond.