If you like the "warmer" winter weather we have been having lately, then we have some bad news for you-- things are about to change pretty fast.
According to Axios, the polar vortex may be splitting into three different pieces soon, bringing severe winter weather to parts of the United States and Europe, due to global warming. The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles, according to the National Weather Service. It exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter. The term "vortex" refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles. Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream.
"In general, we see colder than normal temperatures over much of the U.S. and Europe/Northern Asia, and warmer than normal temperatures over Greenland and subtropical Africa/Asia,” Amy Butler, a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, told Axios.
Previous splits in the polar vortex have brought on major winter storms like last year’s 'Beast from the East'-- used to describe cold and wintry conditions in the U.K. as a result of easterly winds from the near continent. When pressure is high over Scandinavia, the U.K. tends to experience a polar continental air mass. When this happens in winter, cold air is drawn in from the Eurasian landmass bringing the cold and wintry conditions that give rise to the 'Beast from the East' nickname.
Those storms not only wreak havoc on travel plans, but they could also drive up the cost of natural gas and other energy sources as humans put a strain on the grids, Axios reported.
Exacta Weather forecaster, James Madden, told The Express: “January is looking like a colder than average month overall, and we could see some of the lowest temperatures of winter so far during the next three weeks or so. There is also going to be a risk of widespread snowfall through the month, this is something we are keeping our eyes on.”
Madden added that February may be slightly warmer, but temperatures will remain below average throughout Europe, with the risk of heavy snowfall until spring.