Let’s see what’s been happening: a change in the wind pattern of the annual winter Polar Vortex has put much of North America into the deep freeze, and caused serious flooding in many parts of Europe.
What is causing these drastic weather pattern changes? Why are they resulting in such severe cold that makes temperatures in parts of the earth’s Northern Hemisphere comparable to temperatures on Mars?
These questions were addressed to meteorologists who study the annual polar vortex phenomena and its deviations this winter which have caused so much extreme winter cold and snow (see below).
In an interview broadcast on the Democracy Now news site, Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground meteorological site, explained what is happening and whether there is any connection with the phenomenon of global warming.
Masters told D.N. that the Polar Vortex is a normal, annual event in which the winds of the Jet Stream, combined with long periods of Arctic darkness, cause extreme cold and high winds to persist in northern Arctic regions.
According to Masters: “when you get all that cold air up there in the Arctic, it tends to drive stronger winds. And those winds blow counterclockwise around the pole in a vortex; and those winds tend to isolate that cold air from the rest of the world. And so, that cold air can stay cold.
“When that happens to slosh over where we are (the USA), boy, we sure notice it.”
He believes that what is causing the Polar Vortex to dip down into the continental USA is a slowing down of jet stream wind velocity that is causing the winds to “dip down in long meandering loops”.
Masters considers this extreme change in the polar vortex wind patterns a “once in 20 years event” and that there is not definite proof that it is connected to global warming. He did say, however, that rises in the earth’s surface temperature is causing the polar ice caps to melt faster, resulting in less reflection of the sun’s rays from normal ice cap fields.
This Jet Stream wind “meandering” may have caused the Arctic weather loop that dipped down to the Middle East last month and resulted in as much as a meter of snow in Jerusalem and other higher areas, as well as Cairo’s snow storm (above photo).
When summer arrives in a few months, the cold and snow of this unusual winter weather may well be missed when the wrath of global warming again brings searing temperatures to much of the Middle East.
Illustration and satellite photo of Polar Vortex change in North America by Accuweather.com