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article imagePolar vortex is on its way and it's going to get ugly

By Karen Graham     Dec 8, 2016 in Environment
While we are feeling the first Arctic blast of the season this week, next week's weather forecast is going to be a doozy. Winter weather's most unwelcome visitor, the polar vortex is coming for a visit..
Weather forecasters are sending shivers down many people's spines today with a prediction that much of the Northern half of the continental United States could see a blast of frigid weather next week, similar in scale and magnitude to the infamous January 2014 Polar Vortex.
And after a record warm fall, many of us may not be ready for winter, but it looks like it will be hanging around, at least through the middle of December. Here's what we can expect from these two blasts of cold air, according to the latest models:
First round of cold air this weekend
Many areas of the Northern Rockies have seen their first below-zero temperatures of the season this week. Over the next couple days, that cold air will be spreading south and east, courtesy of a southerly dip in the jet stream.
On Thursday morning, Casper, Wyoming saw a dip in the temperature to minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest reading since February 16, 2006, while in Denver, Colorado, the mercury dipped to 10 degrees below zero. Now those cold temperatures are expected to reach the East Coast by Saturday.
But while conditions in the East will be cold, the temperatures will be nothing compared to how cold it will be in the Rockies and Plains. And folks in Florida are not being left out of the forecast. Northern Florida can also expect near freezing lows on Saturday.
Second round of freezing weather by Tuesday
The National Weather Service is saying that the coldest weather next week is expected to hit on Tuesday in the Midwest and Northeast, with temperatures falling into the single digits in many cities.
"The air mass on the way for the middle of December is likely to be substantially colder when compared to that of this past week and this weekend," AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok wrote on Thursday, according to Reuters.
And along the Interstate-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic, temperatures will only rise into the 30s for most of next week. Accuweather is saying that temperatures may fail to reach the freezing mark for a day or two from Philadelphia and New York City to Boston. But Pastelok says there is some good news. "We expect Arctic air to retreat northward around Christmastime," he says.
Yes, it is the polar vortex
When the wind is factored in, it will feel even colder. Wind chill advisories have already been issued for parts of the Plains, with wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero possible. These conditions can cause frostbite and be dangerous to those caught outdoors and unprepared,
And for those who are interested, yes, it does appear that the stratospheric polar vortex is playing a role in the weather we will be experiencing next week. Basically, the polar vortex is a closed circulation surrounding the polar regions in the upper atmosphere. When the vortex becomes weakened or elongated, part of it will surge Southward into Canada, resulting in cold air reaching into North America.
Judah Cohen
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