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2021 really is kicking off with a bang, isn't it? Get ready for the possibility of the Polar Vortex making a visit to Iowa in the coming weeks.

Fortunately, it really hasn't been that cold so far this winter but the streak of normal winter temperatures may be coming to an end in the next few weeks.

According to CNN, stratospheric warming is occurring at high altitudes above the North Pole which results in a spike in temperatures. The rise in temperature in the stratosphere where the Polar Vortex is, could result in a blast of cold Arctic air towards the south, and into the U.S. The only thing meteorologists don't know is where the Arctic air will hit and for how long.

The Polar Vortex is a low-pressure system that swirls cold air around the polar regions of the globe. It's always there and has always been there. According to CNN,

The polar vortex is located in the stratosphere, about 18 miles above Earth's surface, which is well above the jet stream, where planes fly, and where most weather occurs.

Sometimes, the Polar Vortex can move off the North Pole. When that does happen, it releases cold air much farther south in regions like the North America and Europe.

The reason the Polar Vortex would move off of the North Pole is because of the jet stream weakening, or if sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) occurs. Those scenarios are demonstrated by the graphic below.


 

CNN reports that recently, an SSW caused the polar vortex to begin moving away from the North Pole. Even though meteorologists know about the SWW, they don't know yet where that cold air will end up over the next week or two.

There is no need to panic about the Polar Vortex. Yet. Meteorologists still don't know if there will even be an impact on the U.S.

Just keep an eye on the weather over the next seven to 14 days. Oh, and just in case, I would make sure you know where all of your warm clothes are. Maybe have the battery in your vehicle checked, too. Just in case.

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