If you’ve been outside lately, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that it is exceedingly cold, even for December temperatures. You also may have heard the term polar vortex thrown around; this term has become synonymous with “especially cold winter” in many Americans’ minds, especially with the last polar vortex striking less than 2 years ago. Today, Legacy Heating & Air Conditioning will explain the basics behind a polar vortex and what it means for us here in New Braunfels.

A Taste of the North Pole

Everyday Occurrence

A polar vortex isn’t a rare occurrence. In fact, there is always at least two polar vortices running simultaneously, one for each of the Earth’s poles. The North and South Pole are both home to a polar vortex, which is essentially just a cyclone caused by the Earth’s continued rotation on its axis. These vortices create and influence much of the wind and weather occurrences on the entire planet and are a key force in determining when and where weather systems accumulate. While it would be easy to assume that a polar vortex weather system, as we have come to call it, is simply the act of the cyclone traveling downward to harass us in North America, but this isn’t entirely true, as the vortex is permanently locked around the pole.

But the Cold?

Undoubtedly, North America is experiencing a massive cold front that was and is directly influenced by the polar vortex, though not necessary the cyclone itself. Instead, the “polar vortex” we are experiencing is actually a cold snap (sudden blast of cold polar air) that is caused by a weakening of the rotation of the cyclone. Think of it this way: A tornado that is gaining speed will not let go of anything it has previously collected; as it slows, however, it will whip debris from deep within the eye of the cyclone out into the countryside. Similarly, when the polar vortex is rotating at a strong rate, the cold air from the North Pole becomes self-contained, allowing us to enjoy normal or warmer winter seasons. As the vortex weakens, bands of cold air are allowed to escape into lower latitudes, reaching as far as us here in New Braunfels.

New Normal

While polar vortices have been rare throughout much of human history, as the temperature of the Earth rises, the meteorological phenomenon has become much more common. While it may seem counterintuitive, the rising global temperature is believed to be the leading cause of the bitter cold that the weather system brings, largely because the warming Arctic is no longer generating the temperature and force necessary to keep the vortex in place throughout the winter. What this means for the winters of the future is simple: More polar vortices reaching America. Even in New Braunfels, we are experiencing far colder-than-anticipated temperatures for December 2016. As we usher in 2017, it is possible that we are looking at a winter that will continue the cold snap and usher in more blisteringly cold winters.

Get In Touch

Reach out to Legacy Heating & Air Conditioning in New Braunfels for all of your HVAC services. We’re in business to keep your family comfortable through increasingly hot summers and frigidly cold winters. As we look toward 2017, it is obvious that heating and air conditioning will play an even larger role in the lives of New Braunfels families and we are excited to be able to support the community.

Contact us today to learn more or schedule your consultation!