Polar vortex returns; is it actually a good thing?


Anybody tired of the "polar vortex" yet? Hope not, because it's returning soon and will blast the Upper Midwest with another round of very cold weather -- with temperatures perhaps 35 degrees below average by late next week, according to the forecast from KARE 11.

The cold air moves into the area early in the week. High temperatures in the metro area will drop from about 15 degrees on Sunday to 1 degree by Thursday. Lows will hit -15 to -18 by mid-week. And it will remain colder than normal for awhile.

“Abandon all hope for March, at least for the first week or two,” said WCCO director of meteorology Mike Augustyniak. “It’s kind of Polar Vortex 3.0, where the core of the coldest air will spill out of Canada and reach the upper Midwest again.”

While you are probably thinking “enough already,” there is an upside to the new round of bitter cold, in that it will stave off flooding that could occur if the snowpack melts too quickly.

Wired magazine reports there is so much snow on the frozen ground in the central and northeastern U.S. that warm weather and rain could lead to flash floods and ice jams on rivers and streams. So the return of the polar vortex is a blessing in disguise. Parts of the country to the south and east of us are seeing warmer than normal temperatures, which is cause for the concern.

“This week’s thaw will be short-lived, preventing the kind of major flooding that would result if all of the snowpack were to melt in a week,” wrote meteorologist Jeff Masters at Weather Underground.

Still, that may not cheer up those of us who have experienced the bone-chilling cold the polar vortex has delivered to us twice already this winter.

 In fact, it looks as though this will be the coldest winter we’ve had in 35 years, and one of the top 10 all-time coldest, according to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

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