You may have heard that we are about to feel some of the coldest weather we have had in Wisconsin in several years. Highs by Friday and continuing into much of next week will likely be stuck in the single digits with a few days possibly struggling to get above the zero degree mark!
So why is this? Well, remember the buzz word Polar Vortex that became popular back in 2014? It’s the polar vortex that will be responsible for this next round of arctic air.
The polar vortex is an area of low pressure that typically resides near the north and south poles. It is there year round and is associated with some of the coldest temperatures for those regions. Typically the vortex is strong enough to keep the coldest of the air near it, however, there are times where the vortex weakens or splits allowing multiple areas of cold air to spiral around and at times work southward into the United States.
A recent split in the polar vortex will send multiple lobes of cold arctic air into the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes as early as Friday and potentially a stronger lobe of cold air by the middle portions of next week.
These splits in the polar vortex are nothing new and this is a natural occurrence in the atmosphere. When they do occur, especially in the winter months, it leaves areas in the mid-latitudes susceptible to these cold arctic outbreaks in temperatures that can last several days to weeks.