The Midwestern United States is currently enduring life-threatening cold temperatures—which these days all but ensure, as so many climate reporters and experts anticipated, an ignorant and even infuriating tweet from President Donald Trump conflating weather and climate.
“Attention, housekeeping staff: massive Dunning-Kruger spill in aisle 1.”
You would think that one who spends so much time fussing over the swirls in his “hair” could understand the rudimentary principles behind atmospheric vortices as represented on a meteorological map. Perhaps if he looked at pictures of him as a child juxtaposed to him in the mirror he could understand the concept of time and realize that the increasing number of bad hair days is in fact not a Chinese hoax. Then again, I have to picture him citing Billy Crystal’s schtick “you look marvelous” as he reflects upon his reflection. But wait, as a (hunted) witch does he have a reflection?
Most of these “record” cold waves are actually just events that used to happen most years. the only records that might be set are records for a particular date - but for a typical station location with instrumental records going back to 1880, a record daily low and record daily high is a statistically normal event one or two times every year. Yet the trend for a while in my area is now to set several record high-for-a-date temperatures every year, while record low temperatures are almost never set anymore.
Yet the media seems to get ever-more shrill about these “record-setting” (not!) cold snaps - they are going on and on about anticipated -5 to -10 F temperatures where I live - something that happens at least once every year - but totally ignore the more common record setting warm temperatures.
I think what’s notable about these polar vortices is how they form. Apparently, warm air that would not normally wind up over the north pole does so, and disrupts the cold air mass that normally sits politely where it belongs. When this happens, it shoves vortices of cold air away from the pole. I am not sure of the extent to which this phenomenon is changing with atmospheric warming, but there’s the gist of what I read this morning.
Exactly - in fact one of the first indicators that the planet was warming globally was when people noticed 40 years ago that we were getting two record highs for every record low (now the ratio is much higher). We’ll see what kind of pronouncements we see from the President and the media next week when the predictions are for unseasonably warm weather in these same locations.
The jet stream is pushed by the pressure differential between the Arctic and the Temperate zone. Warming is occurring about twice as fast in the Arctic than down south making the temperature differential less and thus the pressure differential less. In the old days the jet moved at up to a couple of hundred knots. As the jet slowed it started meandering leading to the polar vortex. 50 years ago you never saw that. At least that is my understanding and recollection.
What deniers never seem to get is that no one ever said winter would be canceled. I first heard about it in the 60s’ and the line was that global warming would mean extremes on both ends of the weather, hot and cold.
And that is what we are seeing extreme heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter. And right now Australia is continuing their drought. Bet they would like some of our snow as rain down there.
I am curious as to whether the storms hitting CA will help with their drought. If it does, at least someone will benefit from these storms.
No, “polar vortex” is just a marketing gimmick for “cold snap” - which always involved the breaking off of cold masses from continental regions near the Arctic. There is no new meteorological phenomenon. Note that the North Pole and Arctic Ocean is always typically warmer than adjacent land masses of areas of Siberia and Arctic Canada.
The main point is that the global warming denialists in the media is making a big deal over cold snaps that do not occur as often or are not as severe as the past
Yes. Much-above normal temperatures are forecast for the E. half of the US early next week.
I agree that “polar vortex” is a new, fancied-up term for “cold snap.” It’s not, as you say, something new going on here. All I was trying to share was some information from the morning paper about how climate change might relate to it all. Thanks.
Great link! Thanks.
Another interesting follow up is that about 4 years ago around Christmas the temperature at the North Pole was above freezing (33F). That is most certainly not normal and was a result of warm air pushing the cold polar air out on to southern land masses. Note the 2 articles from 2015 and 2018 and how fast things are changing. It is quite startling.