Good Evening!!! Is anyone missing the true January arctic cold? I didn’t think so! However, it is January and we often times see at least a couple colder than normal streaks. The next 7 days look fairly normal for January standards. But after that is where things start to change up a bit
Let’s talk about the polar vortex. Where is it? What is it? and how does it affect the Ohio Valley
There are two “polar vortexes” on earth. One centered around the North Pole and one centered around the South Pole. For our sake, we will focus on the Northern Polar Vortex. Typically, the Polar Vortex is firmly stationed around the arctic circle and doesn’t budge much. Check out this graphic from NOAA (the governing body of the National Weather Service).
As you can see from the above graphic, it’s when Polar Vortex becomes less stable or weakens that we sometimes see it move in our direction. It’s not always a guarantee that we see the affects of an unstable “PV”. But from time to time we do get lucky enough……..of course the use of “lucky” depends on whether or not you like cold weather.
Will we see the Polar Vortex in the Ohio Valley this year? Some of the guidance we look at says we have at least a decent chance of it impacting the Ohio Valley in about 10-14 days.
Here’s a look at what the Polar Vortex looks like and is located currently.
Taking a look at the above map we can assume this. True arctic air is up over Northern/Northwest Canada, Alaska and Russia. The Polar Vortex is on the move but is still “put together” enough to remain in one generalized piece. This looks to change around the 11th and 12th of January.
Study the map above and then take a good look at the previous map we just talked about. It looks a lot different. We are now looking at a jet stream that has weakened and is allowing the PV to move about in different pieces. The time frame is roughly between 7-10 days from the time we see the PV split until it could potentially affect the Ohio Valley.
Moving down the road (Jan 15th) we see the affects of that unstable Polar Vortex starting to impact the Lower 48. This timing is likely to change up a bit, but gives us a rough estimate of the time-frame. This map would indicate below normal temperatures for a day or so……….but it potentially gets worse/better.
The afternoon run of the Global Forecast System (“GFS”, a Numerical Weather Model). Hints at an even colder period around the 19th-20th of January. Here’s that map.
Notice how there is a true piece of the PV in the Great Lakes/Ohio Valley Region. If this were to pan out and be taken verbatim, this would lead to those bitterly cold temps that we’ve experienced in years past. We don’t know that this happens for sure, but there are some indications that it’s certainly possible.
Oh and in case you were wondering. A pattern like the above typically leads to a very wintry pattern for the Eastern United States. Thus far its been a pretty boring stretch of January. But the second half looks to bring back that snowy and cold look we had for much of December 2020. Keep checking back for future updates to see how this patterns evolves.