Brace yourself for a brutal winter: Experts say disruptions in the polar vortex could cause temperatures to plummet in parts of the US

From The Daily Mail

  • Polar vortex is an atmospheric circulation pattern that sits high above the poles
  • Warm air moving into the Arctic can cause it to weaken and split into vortices
  • These can bring colder temperatures and extreme weather to mid-latitudes
  • Experts say split at the end of this month could cause severe weather in US
  • The effects would likely come later in January and early February, experts say

By Cheyenne Macdonald For

Published: 13:34 EST, 28 December 2018 | Updated: 14:25 EST, 28 December 2018

The Eastern United States could be in for a blast of frigid weather.

Activity in an Arctic climate pattern could send the polar vortex barreling towards more southern latitudes to envelop parts of North America, Europe, and Asia.

The phenomenon has led to extreme winter weather in recent years, including record low temperatures in the US back in 2014 and last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ in the UK.

While there’s still time for things to change, the models currently suggest a split in the high-altitude polar vortex will ring in the New Year, creating the potential for ‘more severe winter weather’ in the Eastern US in the weeks to follow.

The Eastern US could be in for a blast of frigid weather. Activity in an Arctic climate pattern could send the polar vortex barreling towards more southern latitudes to envelop parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. The illustration shows how a polar vortex reaches the US

The Eastern US could be in for a blast of frigid weather. Activity in an Arctic climate pattern could send the polar vortex barreling towards more southern latitudes to envelop parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. The illustration shows how a polar vortex reaches the US

The latest predictions come from Dr Judah Cohen, of Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), and are supported by models from several other researchers shared in the last few weeks.

The polar vortex is an atmospheric circulation pattern that sits high above the poles, in a layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere.

This structure can weaken as a result of abnormal warming in the poles, causing it to split off into smaller ‘sister vortices’ that may travel outside of their typical range.

As of the end of December, the models show the polar vortex situated above Scandanavia could break apart to become two or even three vortices, bringing colder weather to the mid-latitudes and warmer weather in the Arctic.

According to Cohen, ‘a stratospheric PV displacement or split is looking more and more likely during the last week of December and into the first week of January.’

As of the end of December, the models show the polar vortex situated above Scandanavia could break apart to become two or even three vortices, bringing colder weather to the mid-latitudes and warmer weather in the Arctic

As of the end of December, the models show the polar vortex situated above Scandanavia could break apart to become two or even three vortices, bringing colder weather to the mid-latitudes and warmer weather in the Arctic

Video playing bottom right…

Click here to expand to full page

The split higher up in the atmosphere could eventually cause a similar phenomenon to ‘drip’ down to the troposphere – the layer of the atmosphere closest to the surface, where most of our weather takes place.

This process generally takes about two weeks, Cohen explains in a blog post published this week.

A split in the polar vortex can give rise to both sudden and delayed effects, much of which involves declining temperatures and extreme winter weather in the Eastern US along with Northern and Western Europe.

‘A sudden stratospheric warming usually leads to a warm Arctic not only in the stratosphere but also at the surface as well,’ Cohen explains.

‘And a warmer Arctic favors more severe winter weather in the NH midlatitudes including the Eastern US.

While there’s still time for things to change, the models currently suggest a split in the high-altitude polar vortex will ring in the New Year, creating the potential for ‘more severe winter weather’ in the Eastern US in the weeks to follow. File photo

While there’s still time for things to change, the models currently suggest a split in the high-altitude polar vortex will ring in the New Year, creating the potential for ‘more severe winter weather’ in the Eastern US in the weeks to follow. File photo

Read the full story here.


205 thoughts on “Brace yourself for a brutal winter: Experts say disruptions in the polar vortex could cause temperatures to plummet in parts of the US

  1. Yup – I wrote this six weeks ago – it’s happening!

    Fair warning:

    I’m calling down another very hard winter on the US Northeast, extending up into Canada.

    The reason I’m doing this is that you deserve it. You continue to bleat about global warming, in a world that is about to get colder.

    You continue to blather on about climate change and the need to eliminate fossil fuels – do that tomorrow and most of you will be dead within a month or two.

    Fully 85% of global primary energy is fossil fuels and that number has not changed significantly in decades. Fossil fuel energy provides almost everything you need to survive in this complex world. It IS that simple!

    So enjoy the bitter cold and snow this winter, good people, and maybe you will actually learn something.

    Cold kills far more people then heat in the world today, probably about 2 million excess winter deaths per year.

    Bundle up!

    • Same as this happened in the 1970s.

      Just saying. Then we were told it portended the forthcoming ice age.

      Maybe this time it does, with the sun going to sleep big time. Will be hard for the Climate Jihadis to relate solar activity to CO2, but I’m sure they will do their damnedest. I’m 67. The extremes of weather in my lifetime all occurred in the first 25 years of my life, wrt to droughts and cold winters.

      • I was thinking as I skimmed the article, how this happened in the 70s, and how Arctic ice simutaneously reached its recent maximum extent (’79). So much for warming the Arctic as the above implies.

      • To most folks “hydro” indicates water.
        Chemists will feel differently about this.
        In any case, referring to the issue using “Carbon-base” fuel rather than fossil fuel (as most do) seems to better convey understanding for all. Consider diamond and graphite. It is the Carbon that contributes to CO2, not the Hydrogen.

    • Give it a rest, Kim and go on back to desmogblog and skepticalscience if you feel compelled to blather about your “hottest years evah” and sea ice horrors.

    • The El Niño is still around. There is a meter thoughtfully provided on the right. There is nothing remarkable about the temperatures around the world. It is true that lows have been moving up, raising the average, but it is not correct that the “hot places” are generally and measurably hotter.

      The highs would have to rise significantly to match the late ’30’s, around the world. It was hotter back in the day.

        • An official El Nino is declared after the fact. We have had El Nino conditions in the Nino 3.4 area since mid September. This would need to hold through February for an official El Nino to be declared.

          OTOH, the atmosphere has not coupled to the ocean conditions as of yet so this is not what some might call a real El Nino. Lately, the Nino 1-2 temperature has fallen sharply as well.

          December should be the first month this warmth will have an effect on the UAH temperature. Will be interesting to see how much it goes up (if any).

        • My point is that it never stopped. I agree there are standard time periods used to declare an El Niño took place, there should be a corresponding period of “other conditions” to declare it over. It has been sitting on the warm side of neutral for months.

          Those predicting a “big El Niño” are talking through their entrails. They know no such thing. If you shout El Niño or La Niña long enough, one occurs and you claim wisdom. Humbug.

      • maybe he is saying that we are carbon based organisms, living on a carbon based planet, in a carbon based solar system and we somehow think we are going to eliminate carbon.

        • Along with oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, boron, chromium, cobalt, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium. and zinc.

          Oxygen is number 1 by far, carbon is number 2, and hydrogen number 3.

    • “Activity in an Arctic climate pattern could send the polar vortex barreling towards more southern latitudes…”

      I love the use of the word ‘barreling’, as if it’s contained in some sort of wind casket and once it’s started on the ‘weather ramp’ (or something), it goes rolling down the slopes toward the unsuspecting souls in its path, like a bunch of beer barrels falling off a beer truck. And some storms are like that, yes – something that is unstoppable and uncontrollable.

      For forecasts, I’ve seen several from the rather limp meteorology site Accuweather, but they change their minds about the ‘where and when’ every few hours. The Almanacs have different opinions about it all, too, so it’s best to just keep a weather eye (pun intended) on the sky.

      And right now, in my kingdom a few miles from the shores of Mishi-gami, it is chilly and raining. I think I will fix some more hot tea and settle in with a good book, cookies and a pot of hot tea.

    • “Meantime 2018, even with the last el nino long gone”

      Apparently you have failed to notice that there is an El Nino now?

      • Winter weather happens in January and February. Why, thank you Capt. Obvious! This is supposed to be NEWS . . . ? Pfft!

        • indeed. i wish the daily mail would be ignored on is a sensationalist rag ,like much of what is left of the printed media in the uk that is in its death throes due to the internet. the only people in the uk that think “the beast from the east” was anything special are people with memory loss issues. the winter of 2010 was far worse and even that wasn’t a patch on several winters in the 80’s and 90’s.

    • The El Nino’s gone, but it’s not forgotten. Without a strong La Nina, it takes 3 or 4 years for the heat of an El Nino to fully dissipate.

      • Look at that finger of purple jutting into North Dakota. I live in Manitoba, just to the north. When I woke up this morning it was -30C with wind chill at -42C. It will go south and east, so button up in the Great Lakes region.

    • First, not anomalous since this has happened for as long as we have been keeping records. This is normal, regular behavior. Second, if we are still warming from the little ice age, of course the most recent years are warmer. Based on the ice core proxies from Greenland, we were warmer over most of the past 10,000 years than we are now, with a somewhat constant level of CO2. These data are supported by geologic measurements of the sea level, which was 3 meters higher 5,000 years ago. As a scientist, you have to be able to explain why this was, before you can blame CO2 for the recent warming. Anything else is just ignoring the true consensus of the scientific method.

    • I can’t see where your cold is coming from.
      usually from multiple thermometers….
      10 deg F in mornings here and cold has not even really set in yet.

    • “Meantime the vast majority of the rest of the planet is continuing to be warm, stinking hot in many places.” citation please and a definition “stinking hot” …

      [gratuitous insults removed. Mod]

    • Cold coming? That will be “weather.” Now if it were warmer than usual, THAT would be global warming.

  2. This too will be blamed on CO2, cause CO2 is now responsible for everything. Including volcanoes 🌋 and earthquakes.

    • They already have, that is what this article is about:

      This structure can weaken as a result of abnormal warming in the poles, causing it to split off into smaller ‘sister vortices’ that may travel outside of their typical range.

      The message is clear: expect extreme cold weather due to manmade global warming.

    • Not anthropogenic water vapor or something else not anthropogenic. Or not anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide radiative feedback extrapolated/inferred from an observation in isolation and realized through a global butterfly effect… Catastrophic or perhaps a natural cycle that is incompletely, and, in fact, insufficiently characterized, unwieldy, and recurring with indeterminate patterns.

    • The Eastern United States could be in for a blast of frigid weather.

      They will always be right because they make vague conditional claims. How cold does it have to get for “frigid” to right/wrong ? It’s winter FFS.

      If it is not cold, well they only said “could be”, with no indication of probability, so they were right anyway.

      It works like fortune telling , you make your claims vague enough so that they can always fit what happens.

  3. Getting in ahead of the game this year.

    They laying the ground for “extremely cold winter weather caused by global warming”.

  4. @MODS: Does every comment have to go through moderation now on WUWT. I makes it very hard to have any kind exchange with other commenters.

    • Some replies are posted instantly. Some after several hours. A few have never seen the light of day, for reasons I cannot fathom, as they were on point, respectful, reasonable intelligent, non-religious, without objectionable language, succinct, logical, inoffensive, etc and etc. It would help to know if there are filters, or philosophical positions to avoid, or rules, or frequency limits, or . . .

    • Interesting graphs. The reason behind you assertion is not clear.

      It seems the top panel has a repetition of about 28.5 days, solar surface rotation I would guess. So this is “viewing” angle more than a change in solar output. But it still affects us as it varies from out “view point”.

      In the lower graphs there seems to be a strong and very regular period of about 9h , what is that about? How are these measurement taken? Sampling frequency?


      • Geomagnetic activity is important, i.e. the direct influence of the solar wind on the Earth’s atmosphere.
        Do you see clear temperature jumps in the stratosphere? What do you think can cause such sudden jumps?

        • At 30mbar, it’s likely to be solar in origin. You referred specifically to “the speed of the solar wind” now it’s “geomagnetic activity”.

          I thought you were making some specific claim. I guess you were just meaning solar.

          You make a similar claim about ozone, it’s not clear what you are basing your claims on. Not saying you’re wrong, but just linking a graph an making an assertion is not something I’m going to believe and learn from.

          • Geomagnetic activity depends on the speed and density of the solar wind that hits the Earth magnetosphere.
            My conclusions are based on real observations.
            Suggest other.

  5. If the warming reaches the troposphere in the arctic and we have northern blocking then I expect the surface temperature to fall and sea ice extent to increase as it did during last years SSW but the warming may not affect the troposphere as it did last year. Sea ice extent is declining presently with the strong polar vortex if this weakens then we will see sea ice extent increase I think.

  6. We are looking at -2F -18.8C Tuesday Morning, normally around 15F, 9.4C, can’t wait to see how many neighbors I get to fix plumbing issues for this year.

    • This morning’s NWS Forecast has 50s for NW Ohio by tomorrow morning.

      “Much warmer, especially over northwest Ohio with highs around 55 near Lima.”

  7. An oldie but a goodie:

    Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.

    • Oh yes, that is one of the classics by Sean Thomas. There is more in that piece he wrote.

      “When pressed on the particular outlook for the British Isles. Professor Sutton shook his head, moaned eerily unto the heavens, and stuffed his fingers into the entrails of a recently disembowelled chicken, bought fresh from Waitrose in Teignmouth.”


      “For a final word, I turned to the greatest climate change scientist of all, Dr David Viner, one-time senior research scientist at the climatic research unit of the University of East Anglia, who predicted in 2000 that, within a few years, winter snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event”.

      However, he was trapped under a glacier in Stockport, so was unable to comment at the time the Telegraph went to press.”

      PS. Speaking of whom, where is the esteemed Viner these days?. Does he have a view on developments?

        • Stoic, thank you for that.

          From his bio on the website:

          “How has your career progressed at Mott MacDonald?

          I have been able to grow in confidence since joining Mott MacDonald and if required, I know I can deliver further growth to the business and continue to ensure that Mott MacDonald is seen as a world leader in climate resilience.”

          Hmm, well he made a very confident prediction in 2000 so one wonders where he stands in that confident prediction now?.

          I also note that he is keen on business growth. Interesting. Might that include more international, business class air travel?

          • Also,

            “By using a robust evidence base (no instinct or gut feelings from me!) I am confident that I can continue to make a meaningful impact at Mott MacDonald.”


          • More!

            20 November 2012
            Mott MacDonald appoints Dr David Viner as principal advisor for climate change

            Mott MacDonald has appointed Dr David Viner as principal advisor for climate change. An internationally recognised expert, David brings with him 20 years of experience working in the area of climate change.

            David worked for 17 years at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit, where he developed a worldwide reputation working across all areas of climate change. He led UK public engagement on climate change adaptation and advised both the UK government and international agencies. During this time he was also director of the UEA’s innovative climate change masters course.

            In 2007 David took up a new position as Natural England’s principal climate change specialist where he developed an adaptation framework and indicators for climate change. In 2008 David was appointed global director at The British Council where he developed a ground breaking cultural relations strategy and programme that was delivered through 250 offices in 109 countries. Working across UK government departments and in collaboration with international agencies, businesses and national governments, the programme was publicly endorsed by the UK government, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other leading agencies.

            Mott MacDonald’s environment manager Ian Allison said: “We are delighted to welcome David to Mott MacDonald. Sustainability and climate change are important drivers for our business. As awareness of these issues increases, the consultancy is continuing to develop its services and skills to help in strategies for adaptation, mitigation and institutional reform to respond to these challenges. David’s outstanding expertise in areas such as water resources, agriculture and environmental systems together with his extensive publication record make his appointment a real coup for the company. His arrival signifies our growing business involvement in the area of climate change and commitment to this important sector.”

            David contributed to the reports of the IPCC, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is also an Honorary Lifetime Friend of the Countryside for his work on climate change and the European countryside. He has published over 100 papers and research reports and has undertaken numerous public lectures around the world.


            For more information contact:

  8. Do we need models to fore3cast this Polar Votex. What did they do before PCA’s ?

    After all we laugh at the use of models when they forecast ever hotter weather, so why should we believe this lot ?


    • I can be around the house all day shirtless, most days still, only when its windy as hell do the drafts force me to put the heating on before 6pm

      This winter is milder so far than last years, i’m just 80 miles off-shore to the UK.

  9. …the models currently suggest…

    So this may happen – or not. Nobody knows for sure, not even the models. Any statement from Gisele Bündchen?

  10. Does a southern polar vortex experience similar instability? If so, what are the effects in that hemisphere?

    • Remember that down south your talking about a continent surrounded by oceans. There is a circumpolar current in the water that surrounds the Antarctic. Up north your talking about an ocean bordered by various land masses with various voids which results in a completely different situation.

      • Anthony,

        That is broadly correct as your link says:

        “the SH midwinter warmings observed so far have been minor events following the definition for the NH. They were mainly a feature of the upper stratosphere, reaching comparable intensities to NH warmings (even major ones), but they did not lead to a breakdown of the normal winter circumpolar vortex.”

        However, I would aver that increased waviness of the jets does occur in the SH as well as witness cold air incursions into New Zealand, Australia and South America.

  11. Joe Bastardi and his guys at weatherbell have been forecasting a very tough January and February for the eastern part of the US for months now. Though most of the eastern half of the country will be effected the coldest temperatures relative to the averages will be centered over or a little south of the Ohio Valley according to what they have been showing.
    This hype about the polar vortex is just that. Such a weather pattern is nothing new and when I hear the term being used to try and sensationalize such a pattern I know what I’m dealing with.

    • rah:

      Yes many a Met organisation COULD have done that.
      Certain +ve indicators were there.
      However a state Met service needs to have a certain (high) probability of success in that “Forecast”.
      I myself could have.
      It cannot be high enough at that range to warrant a reasonable probability of success.
      Thus we see the difference between a responsible Met Service and individuals seeking vaidation.

  12. I thought it is the circumpolar vortex.
    This isn’t my field but in other disciplines it has become common to rediscover or rename old phenomena to start a new round of publishing. I suspect the polar vortex, circumpolar vortex, arctic cold front, blocking high, blocking pattern may or may not contribute to a spell of typical or somewhat atypical weather that may or may not develop this winter. Consider yourself warned.

  13. And why does the polar vortex get displaced? Because of the effects of warming on the arctic.

    and the Daily Mail has no credibility as a source of information, scientific or political.

      • No, Griff is correct but he missed an important part.
        AND it has nothing to do with the GHE.
        See my post above.
        It is the warming of the Arctic stratospheric vortex that will ultimately cause warming at the surface there, as cold arctic air is forced to spill to more mid-latitudes due HP forming there.
        The warming in the SPV causes a reversal of winds (E’lies) aloft which eventually down-wells (usually but not always) through the troposphere, warms and creates an area of HP (-ve AO).
        The Daily mail is second only to the Daily Express in terms of sensationalist rubbish where weather is concerned. Like all tabloids in the UK they are not interested in facts, just with selling papers.

        • Anthony
          The Daily Mail was a bit sceptical of AGW under the editorship of Paul Dacre and printed some sound reports but he has now retired and the replacement appears to me to be more leftist, alarmist and sensationalist. I’ve switched to The Daily Telegraph.

        • AB: he is wrong about the DM and so are you.

          Sorting the wheat from the undoubted chaff the DM has carried many excellent journalistic successes especially under Dacre.

          This article isn’t DM research it’s a report on it.

          • “Sorting the wheat from the undoubted chaff the DM has carried many excellent journalistic successes especially under Dacre.”

            That may be the case.

            However as a retired UKMO meteorologist I know full well “rubbish” when written of meteorology/weather.
            UK tabloids just love putting a sensationalist weather “story” on the front page.
            It apparently garners them 10% more sales than otherwise.
            There has been a LOT of rubbish written recently re snow/cold/beast from the east (NB: every E’ly has to be a BFTE).
            The DE is the worst though, forever quoting a certain James Madden who runs a one-man-band show and has no meteorological qualifications.

    • the Daily Mail has no credibility as a source of information, scientific or political.

      Correct, but only because no mainstream media, i.e. legacy media has any credibility in economics science or politics, they are worthless, atleast if they were printed on tissue they would be useful.

      You could wipe your a$$ with their CC articles etc, you just cant do that with pixels.

    • “And why does the polar vortex get displaced? Because of the effects of warming on the arctic.”

      Or, another theory says the Polar Vortex gets displaced during times of low activity on the Sun, like we are in now. This causes the troposphere to shrink and this causes the jet stream to form a wavy pattern.

      There’s nothing to see here. Every year we can expect at least one, maybe two severe cold spells in the U.S. that last for a week or two. These severe cold spells (0 degree F) usually strike from January to February. So we are due for a cold snap or two. No CO2 required. It happens all the time.

      • “Or, another theory says the Polar Vortex gets displaced during times of low activity on the Sun, like we are in now. This causes the troposphere to shrink and this causes the jet stream to form a wavy pattern.”

        It’s not a theory – it’s a fact.
        JUST that it cannot do it alone.
        The reduced UV in times of solar mins means that the tropical stratosphere is colder, and that reduces the Stratospheric W’ly jet a tad (less than 10 kt) so that helps when added to planetary wave breaking sent north, often by collision with mountain ranges. The Tibetan plateau being the most usual.
        Things like an E’ly QBO (actually its a W’ly this year – so not favourable), and help from the ENSO phase + the MJO being in the central Pacific.
        No one factor can do it alone.

        • Anthony,
          You are following the established view that less UV at a time of quieter sun makes the entire stratosphere colder by reducing ozone creation at all heights and latitudes.
          In fact there have been observations that above 45km there is an increase in ozone above 45km especially over the poles when the sun is less active.
          That is the reason why there are more stratospheric warmings over the poles with more wavy jets and increased global cloudiness when the sun is less active.
          The corollary is that one would expect less ozone above 45km over the poles when the sun is active and that is likely the cause of the past ozone hole panic rather than our CFCs.
          The ozone hole is now reducing with the quieter sun as per my hypothesis and nothing to do with the Montreal Protocol.
          The reverse sign ozone response above 45km over the poles is an elephant in the room and the logical implications are being ignored by the climate establishment.

      • Latitude,
        The polar vortex in the stratosphere is comprised of air descending from the mesosphere and warming by compression which makes the air above the poles warmer but it is still very cold.
        The effect is to push down tropopause height above the pole which forces cold surface air outwards in an irregular wavy pattern but for every outward surge of cold surface air there is a corresponding poleward surge of warm surface air into the Arctic.
        One must think in three dimensions and incorporate both the stratospheric polar vortex and the tropospheric circumpolar vortex. The writers of the paper appear not to make that clear, indeed they may be confused themselves.

      • “Griff….the vortex makes the Arctic warmer…not the other way around”
        No the Vortex IS cold air.
        Trapped within by the stratospheric/tropospheric westerly jets.
        When they disrupt/split then HP can develop and push Arctic air south – warming the Arctic and making it much colder where the cold plunges end up.

    • Griff, you are full of it as usual.
      In the 1970’s it was blamed on cold air. Now fiction has taken over and they blame it on warm air and Griff and company believe anything that comes from the warmistas.

    • A snowy spell in the UK has always been linked to warming of the stratosphere above the poles which results in higher pressure in the area between Greenland and Siberia which pushes cold Arctic surface air southwards.
      Such stratospheric warmings are a regular phenomenon but tend to be more prevalent at times of less active sun such as now, 2010 and during the mid 20th century cooling period and the LIA.

  14. yes I think the stratosphere in the southern hemisphere does have SSW and there are graphs on the temperature for the southern hemisphere on the jaxa website I think it is called. I don’t know the effect it has in the southern hemisphere but in the northern hemisphere it often has an effect on the trade winds which weaken or reverse in particular across the north Atlantic and the Jetstream can be pushed to the south

    • South Hemisphere has single magnetic pole just of the Antarctica (towards Australia) so polar vortex (rich in charged particles) is very strong and stable, maintaining strong and stable zonal circulation .
      However, in the North Hemisphere there are two magnetic poles , one just west of Hudson Bay and the other one in the central Siberia (north of lake Baikal. The biforcation of the magnetic field frequently splits polar vortex and so greatly weakening it. In contrast with the Antarctica, the NH polar vortex often is neither strong or stable (a bit like Theresa May’s government) loosing control of the polar jet-stream which then characterised by the excessive meridional circulation.
      see links

      • Nice, clear explanation of the difference between the northern polar vortex and the southern polar vortex. Thanks, vukcevic.

        • Note that this post refers to the stratospheric polar vortices above the poles which involve air descending from the mesosphere into the stratosphere and warming by compression as it does so. The amount of warming is influenced by the amount of ozone present because ozone directly absorbs incoming solar energy.
          The circumpolar vortex in the troposphere is an entirely separate phenomenon (the ring of jet stream tracks around each pole) but because warming above the poles in the stratosphere pushes down the tropopause above the poles that pushes tropospheric air outwards towards the equator which results in wavier jet stream tracks and increased global cloudibness.

      • vukcevic: “In contrast with the Antarctica, the NH polar vortex often is neither strong or stable (a bit like Theresa May’s government)”

        You could have given me a warning that this comment was coming, now I have to clean the coffee off of my monitor (sigh).

        Happy New Year!

      • The Polar Vortices have nothing to do with magnetic poles.
        They are merely a function of the atmosphere cooling in the Polar night.
        The Cold air aloft creates the vortex via winds flowing from warmer mid latitudes and turning right due to Coriolis this forms the PJS in the trop and the Polar night-jet in the Strat. Both tend to “keep in” the coldest air.
        In the NH with your back to the wind cold air lies on the left.
        In the SH air turns lefts via Coriolis, so that cold air lies on the right.
        Two poles of cold tend to exist in the NH because of the large land-masses of N America/Canada and Eurasia – and a permanent snowfield by mid-winter allows very cold air to persist there – Under the Siberian high especially.

        • Anthony,
          You are referring to the circumpolar vortex in the troposphere whereas vuk is referring to the stratospheric polar vortex.
          However, I do agree that it is nothing to do with magnetism per se though charged particles may be involved in the reverse sign ozone creation / destruction balance above 45km hence the solar connection.

        • The polar vortex extends from the tropopause at 8–11 km in altitude, to the stratopause at around 50–60 km in altitude.
          During strong solar activity passenger jets avoid flying polar route, since the Earth magnetic field funnels charge particles towards magnetic poles. The charge particles strongly ionise atmospheric gasses in the vortex. Atmospheric velocity of polar vortex is well in excess of 100km/h and often 2 or 3x that.
          Noting that the atmosphere of the polar vortex is ionised, basic laws of physics stipulate that movement of such gasses is under influence of the magnetic field present.
          Just few days ago there was a strong aurora associated with polar coronal hole (see recent WUWT). Downward cascade of charged particles would have strongly ionised polar vortex, and this state may persist for few weeks or even a month or so.
          When the charge is low the effect of earth’s field on the vortex is weak, the vortex is strong with jet stream more regular mainly restricted to high latitudes.
          With high charge the vortex is pulled away by the concentration of intensity in the earth’s MF, eventually splitting it up into two distinct but much weaker entities.
          as in this type of often seen image:
          or movie:
          Electrically charged polar vortex in The Northern Hemisphere is progressively spread out and weaken by effect of split magnetic field and eventually it is itself split after number of days or couple of weeks.
          There is a strong relationship between polar vortex and polar jet stream.
          When the polar vortex is strong, there is a single vortex with a jet stream that is “well constrained” near the polar front. When the northern vortex weakens, it separates into two vortices above Canada and Siberia in contrast the Antarctic vortex of the Southern Hemisphere is a single low pressure zone.
          When the polar vortex is strong, the mid-latitude Westerlies (winds at the surface level between 30° and 60° latitude from the west) increase in strength and are persistent. When the polar vortex is weak, high pressure zones of the mid latitudes may push poleward, moving the jet stream, and polar weather front equator-ward. The jet stream is seen to “buckle” and deviate south. This rapidly brings cold dry air into contact with the warm, moist air of the mid latitudes, resulting in a rapid and dramatic change of weather known as a “cold snap”.
          Simple physics.

  15. “Will It Be Cold This Winter? It Depends Which Farmers’ Almanac You Read: Dueling weather forecasts confound fans of longtime rivals the Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Farmers’ Almanac; ‘I don’t know what to believe’” By Jennifer Levitz on Dec. 27, 2018

    “Gail Gabel was delighted when the Old Farmer’s Almanac came out in August with its prediction for a mild winter. Ms. Gabel, a 50-year-old resident of Sidney, Ohio, sent her parents in North Carolina a photo of the almanac’s prediction of “above-normal temperatures almost everywhere” in the U.S., hoping to persuade them to visit her over the winter.

    “A week later, her mother called, sounding frosty. She had read the competition—the Maine-based Farmers’ Almanac. Its forecast predicted a “teeth-chattering cold” season.”

    * * *

    “It is a stormy chapter in the page-turning rivalry that started in 1818 when the Farmers’ Almanac burst onto the scene and threatened the hegemony of the Dublin, N.H.-based Old Farmer’s Almanac, which began publishing in 1792.”

    * * *

    “The Farmers’ Almanac, which distributes 1.7 million copies and has about 1.3 million social-media followers, says it does its forecast two years ahead of its release using a secret mathematical formula applied to sunspot activity, planet positions and the moon’s effect on the Earth.

    “The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which distributes 3.3 million print copies and has about 1.8 million followers on social media, makes predictions as much as 18 months out using formulas based on solar activity, astronomy cycles and historical weather conditions. Both almanacs claim about 80% accuracy rates.

    “Many meteorologists put the forecasting in a category with Punxsutawney Phil, saying it is impossible to gauge snowfall and weekly conditions that far out with accuracy.”

    It’s unusual for the dueling almanacs to release winter forecasts that conflict so starkly.

    • “Both almanacs claim about 80% accuracy rates.”

      I guess that won’t be the case this year. One or the other will be wrong.

      I note neither one says anything about CO2.

  16. Where I am on the east coast of Australia, it’s been in the mid 30s(C) for about week and a half. The warmists think it’s wonderful (proof of ‘climate change’). People are at the beach, the tourists love it. Sorry to hear you guys are freezing.

    • I thought Christmas on the beach was normal down under. Isn’t mid 30s fairly average summer weather there, or are they saying it’s too cold and that cooler summers are exactly what you would expect “in a warming world”.

  17. Something I’ve been trying to find out – was this meridional jet stream behaviour predicted by IPCC/models before the recent occurrence? I’ve heard that the opposite was predicted (more zonal flow due to the hotspot?). If so, then surely this warm arctic water explanation is surely post-facto rationalisation. And anyhow, wouldnt a ‘wavy’ jetstream be the cause of warm southern water entering the arctic rather than the other way around?

    • AGW theory proposes more zonal flows as the jets get pushed poleward. Not long ago there was a TV ‘science’ show about how human emissions were pushing the jets more poleward.
      In fact, wavier jets occur more often during periods of cooling as per the LIA which was notoriously stormy.
      Wavier jets involve increased global cloudiness.

  18. Seasons are being displaced by up to 6 weeks.
    This is an observation which the vineyards in France are familiar with.
    You don’t get better than agriculture to tell you how it is.

    so,- the cold comes later in Europe preceded by warmer damper longer autumn weather, the cold comes in January, with frosts lasting later, in some cases to MAY.

    It is not much different in Russia, so much that the summers are/were so unpredictable,cold and wet, that the last two were called “green winter”.

    This year, april -may – june had violently unstable weather with a record number of thunderstorms in France.
    Then came the really hot stuff, which lasted later than what is considered “normal” to september on.
    Now we have a ski season beginning, with no snow, -way too warm.

    In our region 2yrs ago more than 15 000 cars were seriously damaged by tennis ball size hailstones in late spring/early summer.
    They are still repairing the roofs now…

    If you check your history, you will see the main wine and food trade was carried up the Loire to Paris where the Royalty was (right through the LIA period), and in Orleans itself were all the vinegar makers, who used the spoilt wine for that. (yep they had no chemicals to stop them going bad!)

    I have bought wine from a cooperative in Orleans area for 20+ years.
    This year they closed after more than 100yrs of business.

    The production of grapes was so abysmally low because of late spring frosts for the last 5 yrs, they were going bust.
    This is not hearsay, it was after a 1hr conversation with the boss of the business who was closing up.

    Weather is weather, propaganda is propaganda, and most of the met services of Europe are now in the AGW lobby.
    I hope they get what is coming to them if it gets real cold.
    They should at least go back to what they are paid to do, give reliable weather forecasting, which they seem singularly incompetent at doing.

    Having weather patterns displaced by a few weeks, with snowdrops before christmas in the UK, is nothing to do with “human induced climate change”.
    I have absolutely no doubt it was the same in the medieval warm period and in Roman times, and it’s called weather!
    I am not so keen on seeing the return of the 18th century Thames ice fairs returning.

    • I agree with the season displacement idea. My golf season used to get fully underway in April now it is mid may and sometimes later where I live.

  19. North America’s climate (north of Rio Grande) throughout Holocene was too unstable impeding development of a notable civilization achievements of type that can be found further south.
    If you do build the wall do a ‘semi-conductive’ one, i.e. blocks passage in the north and offers no resistance in the south direction, it might come useful when the ice starts moving southward from the great lakes./sarc
    Happy New Year to all.

  20. “Stable polar vortex”?
    No such thing. Obviously an effort to emote weather for emotional impact, rather than communicate why weather occurs.

    Weather is the process where atmosphere exchanges heat and water vapor. A polar vortex that fails to exchange atmosphere is not normal.

    Joe Bastardi has been predicting these cold weather outbreaks since August 2018.
    He has also been predicting “climate ambulance chasers” who strive to frame weather as climate alarmism.

    Joe Bastardi bases his predictions on weather history, i.e. previous episodes where similar atmosphere conditions result in recognizable weather patterns. All without worshipping the CO₂ trace molecule.
    Daily and weekly summaries are available at Weatherbell.

    Knowing that a cold winter is approaching allowed me to stack more firewood back in short sleeve weather. Cutting and hauling cords of wood from a snow filled woods is much harder. I’ve done both and greatly prefer cutting, transporting and stacking firewood during warm weather.

  21. Before the advent of climate $cience, they were called “Alberta clippers” and they were considered a normal part of winter.

  22. This involves an area of study that I have been investigating for the past 12 years with relevant posts on a number of sites.
    Essentially, the amount of ozone above 45km height and over the poles is subject to solar variability with an opposite sign to that observed below 45km and over the equator. Current climatology assumes the same sign in all locations but recent observations show otherwise.
    The consequence is sizeable solar induced changes in the gradient of tropopause height between equator and poles which determines the waviness of jet stream tracks, the amount of global cloudiness, the proportion of solar energy able to enter the oceans and ultimately net global warming or cooling.
    Stratospheric warming events occur all the time but are less prevalent when the sun is active and more prevalent when the sun is less active.

    More detail here:

      • Okay, at the link in Figure 1 with the inactive sun depicted you have the following text that is confusing. It says “allowing the tropopause up.” That does not help the reader understand anything.

        • ResourceGuy

          Fig 1 (inactive sun) shows tropopause up above the equator but down above the poles.
          Fig 2 (active sun) shows tropopause down above the equator but up above the poles.

          It is the inactive sun scenario where the tropopause is lowered above the poles that involves a warmer stratosphere above the poles with more stratospheric warming events, wavier jets and increased global cloudiness.

  23. Looking at ECMWF next ten days to Jan 10th USA looks fairly normal and western Europe a bit colder. Seems to be getting called a bit too early.

  24. griff says
    And why does the polar vortex get displaced? Because of the effects of warming on the arctic.


    warming of the arctic is causing an ice cold winter?
    what about reaason being just normal cycles?
    1) winter in the year (nh)
    2) minimum at the sun, Schwabe cycle
    3) beginning of a new solar Hale cycle
    4) beginning of a new solar GB cycle

  25. How the Global Warming propagandists have managed to put science upside down so they can blame cold weather on warming is quite remarkable.
    A visit to
    Shows how jets streams are complex, wavy and changing even in winter during which they are faster, reflecting the higher density lower tropospheric circulation. But that, any good meteorologist knows.

  26. NOAA predicted a mild winter because we’re in an El Niño cycle, however, it was very weak and short, and already peaked in mid-October.

    ENSO 3.4 SST is currently at .71C, and will likely fall below 0.5C by the end January.

    For some reason, NOAA is predicting another El Niño to start towards the end of 2019, which makes no sense, and is likely just wishful thinking.

    The next La Niña starting in 2021 should be strong one as they usually occur every 10 years or so, and the last strong one was in 2011.

    Moreover, by 2021, the PDO, AMO and NAO should all be in their respective 30-year cool cycles, and a 50-year Grand Solar Minimum will also likely start in the same year. The Blob is also finished, so all these cooling phenomena will lead to decades of global cooling with many nasty and bitterly cold winters, as occurred during the last PDO cool cycle (1945~1977).

    CAGW alarmists will be ridiculed in the near future…

    • ” 50-year Grand Solar Minimum ” . . . from 2021 to 2071

      I have no idea what that means.
      Nor do I have any idea how anyone knows.
      If by “The Blob” you mean sea surface temperatures west of B.C. and WA,
      it comes and goes with the pressure systems; the term episodic fits.
      Don’t expect it to be “finished” for 50 years.

      • John-san:

        Grand Solar Minimums (GSMs) occurs when the Umbral Magnetic Field (UMf) falls blow 2000 Gauss. The UMF is the magnetic field that holds sunspots together.

        The Little Ice Age was likely caused by 4 GSMs between 1280~1820: Wolf, Sporer, Maunder and Dalton).

        A Grand Solar Maximum (strongest in 11,400 years) occurred from 1933~1996 and accounts for much of 20th-century warming, not CO2…

        The Blob was a rare phenomenon, which recently ended.

        We’ll see soon enough.

        Happy New Year!

  27. The “polar vortex” is actually controlled by the super-top-secret weather machine in the sub-basement of the White House – formerly controlled by evil VP Cheney, it is now personally controlled by Donald Trump, who is still a mere novice at it, and whose whims are unpredictable and chaotic. Each night he sits at the controls, deciding where to release the Magic Molecule to affect his enemies adversely by the invisible rays emanating from the machine, that manipulate, change and move concentrations of CO2 around the globe.

    Remember, there is absolutely nothing that “global warming” AKA “climate change” cannot do via the Magic Molecule – and the left has already told us, it’s all Trump’s fault. I am just the first one to explain how it’s actually done, although others have hinted at it beginning several decades ago. The truth must be told!

  28. Nothing “abnormal” about this pattern. It is the normal winter pattern for the Northern Hemisphere. The land losses heat faster than the oceans. Open ocean water is very warm compared to Siberia, Northern Canada, and Greenland. The warmer water, warms the air above it, which bubbles upward because it is less dense than the surrounding air cooled by the colder land.
    Add the fact that as you move away from the equator the atmosphere has more shear on it, because the Earth is pulling the atmosphere during rotation. The atmosphere is flowing in a turbulent pattern, which gets anti-zonal when there are temperature gradient variations.
    As the sea ice caps the open water, there is less temperature variations between land and ocean, and the Northern Hemisphere settles in for a “long winters night”.

  29. Let us summarize. Allegedly warming of the Artic destablizes the polar vortex. The polar vortex breaks into a series of vortexes. This, in turn, increases the meridional flow which allows warm air to reach the Arctic. The Arctic warms.

    Seems faintly like perpetual motion, or perhaps more like a positive feedback, doesn’t it.

    Long ago people spoke of a zonal index. I have no idea if the concept is still in use, but people noticed the tendency of the atmospheric flow to fall roughly into two states. A state of predominate zonal flow with large north-south pressure and temperature gradient, versus a state of meridional flow with cut off highs and lows, smaller pressure and temperature gradients, with warm air intruding into high latitudes.

    According to models, the warming of the Arctic causes itself. Climate science advances.

    • Climate science is the application of scientific words with the express purpose of confusing the reader, until his eyes glass over, and he accepts his own weakness in untangling the logical Gordian Knot that is climate science.
      The Arctic is not warm in the winter. Saying it is warm or warmer, is where you lose most readers who think something “abnormal” is going on, because they know that it is cold and dark this time of year. But it is usually cold and dark in Siberia as well, and many times it is colder than the Arctic which has the ocean to slowly release heat into the atmosphere.
      And air moves. When air moves from A to B, air also moves from “somewhere” to fill in the void where the air that was at B, is no longer there. Most of the “warmer than average” air over the Arctic is due to open water sources, and air moving in from other areas. Where I live, air from the north lowers the high for the day about 10* F. Air from the south raises it about the same, and zonal flow is about average.
      If we have a pattern that sets up and delivers an extended flow out of the north, it is not unusual or “abnormal”.

  30. I wonder where the Daily Mail obtained the main figure, showing a “stable” polar vortex and a “wavy” vortex, followed by some wording suggesting (to me at least) that it is “abnormal warming” which is causing these stability problems. It bears a “NOAA” label, but seems more like some journalistic production than a scientific diagram.

    The polar vortex is an atmospheric circulation pattern that sits high above the poles, in a layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere.
    This structure can weaken as a result of abnormal warming in the poles, causing it to split off into smaller ‘sister vortices’ that may travel outside of their typical range.

    Actually (as noted by ATheoK above), the boundary of the “wavy” vortex (aka planetary Rossby waves) is the normal configuration. The so-called “stable” configuation is actually unstable because PV’s arise from an imbalance between pressure gradient forces and Coriolis forces (“geostrophic wind”). There exists a positive feedback from latitude displacement in the sense that the imbalance increases from wind latitude change. So any slight wobble turns into bigger waves.

    These Rossby waves have been rolling around the planet for a long time, long before GHE became an issue.

  31. “I wonder where the Daily Mail obtained the main figure, showing a “stable” polar vortex and a “wavy” vortex”

    It comes from dumb down, blend, baffle and scare.
    British tabloids love it, and the BBC even review them with glee and happiness.
    They feed off each other, like bottom feeders in a pond.

    Being as the British have never ever seen a snow tyre, they have been brow-beaten into believing one snow flake is mortal danger, planes can’t land on it, trains call it “the wrong shape or type” and people keep their kids at home when one falls, you have to sympathise.- with the odd island foibles.

    The Tabloids feed on FUD & in winter on frightening people witless with snow or frost.
    The predictable result is chaos, which makes the papers lots more money.

    People in the UK buy these news papers because it makes them feel warm & comfortable.
    When they go home, they can wrap their fish and chips in them.

  32. Bear in mind that forecast is by researchers, not NWS operational forecasters. The official forecast is very different. You can see it here. Time will tell who got it right, but the operational guys are pretty good. Note also how different the official forecasts are compared to the typical alarmist forecast that predicts fractions of a degree change decades into the future.

  33. In this oxymoronic world of alarmism the colder it gets from this polar vortex the more this will prove that the world is warming dangerously and unless we stop using fossil fuels and eating meat and transferring money to developing countries we will pass the point of no return in 12 years and the world will become unliveable because the climate has changed and deniers like president Trump deny the reality of global warming( or maybe cooling) .
    Sounds like another irrefutable factual truth coming to help the alarmist cause. Go figure!

    • You are correct. The normal configuration is governed by planetary forces which are manifested by the “wavy” streams, which look like the graphic on the right. The graphic on the left, which the article calls stable”, actually doesn’t happen in nature. If it did, it would only last a few minutes before deteriorating into the wavy version.

      Yet the article (sprinkled with the usual alarmist buzzzwords like “severe”, “extreme”, “abnormal” etc) suggests that the fanstasy “stable” version is normal, but happens to be “abnormally” distorted by global warming, pushing warm air up into the Arctic. That’s a complete myth.

      Actually, those wavy lines (aka “Rossby waves”have nothing to do with global warming or GH gases, but are created as an artifact of the rotational forces (Coriolis) interacting with atmospheric circulation induced by pressure gradients.

      But don’t be alarmed, rotation is a good thing, not bad, because if the Earth didn’t rotate on its axis there wouldn’t be any “weather”, but a just static planet where the sunlit side would be boliing hot and the dark side dry-ice old. We should be thankful that we only have to just have to put up with cyclones, and occasional Alberta clippers and such.

      Here is a good resource, which explains how the two kinds of polar vertexes operate (tropospheric and stratospheric) and dispels the myth above, tha the polar vertex is driven by climate change.

      • “tha the polar vertex is driven by climate change.”

        There we go again.

        This article does NOT make that claim.
        It is a purely meteorological process.
        Where GW does come in is in Arctic amplification, where greater heating in the Arctic vs mid-latitudes reduces DeltaT at jet levels and hence the PJS…. leading to more “waviness”.

        • There _you_ go again.

          The article does make the claim, in the figure captions: “warm air pushes up” “cold air pushes down” making those “stable” streams go all “wavy”. Guess what made the air warm?

          Then all that warm air is made even warmer by GA, which even you believes is more GW.

          But that’s not what makes those wavy streams in reality (read the reference doc). So I guess it was a myth, needing s thorough debunking, after all.

          • “Guess what made the air warm?”

            The tropical ocean.
            As I said, natural meteorologic factors plus some help from the Sun.
            Been happening for millenia.
            AGW not needed.


    It’s the sun stupid. Even nasa has stated that due to lack of solar activity the upper atmosphere has cooled. They have even suggested in another post that due to lack of solar activity the magnetic pull that causes a straightened jet has declined causing the jet stream to curve more than normal.

    If the sun cools .. so will earth. Sometimes we get lost in minutia .. we need to to look at the heater up in space!

    • “Guess what made the air warm?”

      The tropical ocean.
      As I said, natural meteorologic factors plus some help from the Sun.
      Been happening for millenia.
      AGW not needed.

  35. If The Daily Mail said the sky is blue and the grass green I’d go outside to check.

    The Daily Mail never knowingly pass-up the opportunity to use over-dramatic prose to report/opine on anything likely to cause alarm.

  36. Global warmers have made me an evil person. I now ENJOY reading about abnormally cold weather out of spite.

  37. January 3rd here in RI. The forecast has us at or above freezing during the day for the next ten days. The last few years we were looking at sub zero temps this time of the year.

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