Houston and the Polar Vortex

Snow last Sunday in Texas
Snow last Sunday in Texas

I’ve had questions about the Polar Vortex and how it may affect the rest of the month.

Without getting into a lot of science, the Polar Vortex (which hasn’t really been a player the last two years) is that cold pool of air at the north pole that can’t escape because the winds are moving so fast. But if a sudden surge of warm air intrudes (and it has) then those winds will weaken, buckle and allow the cold air to move south. Here’s an example of how it works with the strong PV on the left and weaker one on the right:

On the left, a strong PV keeps the cold air locked up at the pole. On the right, a weak PV allows the cold air to surge south.

And this shows an example of the intrusion of warm air:

This shows how the Jet Stream weakens and buckles, allowing the southerly surge of cold air

Where is the sudden warm surge coming from that is weakening the Polar Vortex? According to Judah Cohen, Ph.D., who writes extensively on this and other climate connections here, attributes this to our warming world. He notes that 2020 will likely go down as the WARMEST year on record:

2020 is likely to be the WARMEST year on record across the globe

What’s the forecast?

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