Why Has It Been So Cold?

Lynn Strong

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The last few weeks in January were incredibly cold across the Midwest. Records for low temperatures were broken in many areas. Schools and businesses closed due to the dangerous roads and weather. In some areas of the Midwest, there were even reports of frost quakes. A frost quake happens when a rapid drop in temperature causes the ground to burst, emitting a loud noise. In Chicago, train tracks had to be set on fire to keep the trains moving!

Many people have been wondering why all of this happened. You may have heard weather channels talking about a “polar vortex,” but have no clue what they were talking about. I’m here to help explain this phenomenon a bit better.

A polar vortex is a mass of cold air and low pressure that circulates in the atmosphere all the time. It is strong in the winter and weak in the summer. It usually stays close to the poles, sending small amounts down south during the winter, but sometimes it can break off, bringing massive amounts of cold. These massive amounts of cold air contribute to the excessively cold temperatures and the mountains of snow and ice.

While this polar vortex has not been very favorable, I hope that you now understand how and why this polar vortex happened.