The Polar Vortex As Seen From Space

first_img#GOESEast spotted snow on the ground as the sun rose on what will be a bitterly cold day across much of the U.S. A cold Arctic air mass is surging south into the upper Midwest before spreading across much of the eastern two-thirds of the country. More:— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) January 30, 2019During winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the polar vortex can become unstable and expand, sending cold Arctic air southward over the US.Though nothing new (it’s believed the term “polar vortex” first appeared in 1853), this month’s weather event is getting a bit out of hand.Air masses drifting further south than usual are pushing wind-chill temperatures to dangerously low levels: Cold enough to cause frostbite in half an hour.Cloud streets and lake-effect snow stretch across the scene, as frigid Arctic winds blew over the Great Lakes (via NASA)My fingers are turning blue just looking at this image, snapped on Jan. 27 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.Based on data collected by the spacecraft, analysts can closely simulate atmospheric conditions—like those seen in the map below (showing air temperatures 6.5 feet above ground at 4 a.m. EST on Jan. 29).Air temperatures 6.5 feet above ground at 4 a.m. EST on Jan. 29, 2019 (via NASA/Goddard Earth Observing System Model)With temps dropping as low as minus-60℉ in parts of the country, folks sequestered at home are finding interesting ways to combat cabin fever.Participating in the so-called “water challenge,” people are bundling up to throw boiling liquid into the frigid air—a middle-school science experiment that has gone viral. At -29 it’s officially cold enough to turn boiling water into snow!— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) January 29, 2019 While folks in the Midwest and Northern Plains pull on yet another blanket, NASA is keeping an eye on the country from its orbiting satellites.You’ve probably heard by now that a polar vortex is blanketing parts of the US in snow, ice, and beyond-freezing weather.The phenomenon is described by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the Earth’s North and South poles. Watch: Teslas, EVs Were Struggling During the Polar Vortex, TooWatch: Why You Should Be Like a Banana During Polar Vortex Throwing a cup of boiling water in the air, when it’s minus 27 degrees (celsius). #chicago #PolarVortex2019— Adam Roberts (@ARobertsjourno) January 30, 2019 Stay on target I did the boiling water thing because why the heck not.— Devin Pitts (@DevinWxChase) January 30, 2019As Mashable pointed out, though, while this “might look fun,” the polar vortex “has brought life-threatening temperatures to many areas.”“Leaving your house is a questionable project on any day, but it’s an especially risky move for today—and possibly not worth it, not even for art like this,” the tech blog said.More on’s So Cold, Chicago Is Setting Tracks on Fire to Keep Trains MovingFreeze! Police in Illinois ‘Arrest’ Elsa Due to Extremely Cold WeatherWatch: Alligators Poke Snouts Out of Ice to Deal With Freezing Weather42 Stunning Images of Snow and Ice on Earth From Spacelast_img