A Polar Vortex Will Bring 'Cold Blasts' Across the Country Starting This Week

Jennifer Aldrich
·3 min read

In an ideal world (well, mine, at least,) winter would begin on December 1, end on January 1, and we'd all welcome a sweet, temperate spring. Of course, that's not how it works, and many Americans are about to get a rude awakening in the form of freezing air and cold temperatures thanks to a polar vortex, according to AccuWeather. The storm is due to hit North America this week. This polar vortex will bring the "coldest air of the season" and could cause major storms in the next few weeks. It will feel particularly brutal as this winter has been warmer than normal for much of the country.

Courtesy of AccuWeather

What Is a Polar Vortex?

A polar vortex is a large area of cold swirling air that sits by the polar regions of the world, The North Pole and the South Pole. When the storm weakens, it can cause Arctic air to move down toward Europe, Asia, and North America.

When Will the Polar Vortex Affect the U.S.?

This storm will first bring a 10 to 20-degree temperature drop to the northern Plains, Midwest, and the East Coast later this week. There could also be snowstorms in the Northeast and rainstorms in the Southeast due to the cold front. But that's when things are just getting started; "the first true Arctic blast" will take place from January 18-22. It will begin in the northern Rockies and northern Plains and then continue to the eastern and south-central parts of the country.

Related: 24 Must-Do Activities to Add to Your Winter Bucket List

Because many regions are currently experiencing "well-above-average temperatures," some could see 30 to 50-degree temperature drops, specifically in the North Central states and the northern part of the Northeast. "However, overall, the Arctic blast is not likely to be record-setting," says Dave Samuhel, AccuWeather senior meteorologist. "Temperature departures over a seven-day period will tend to be more in the realm of 5-10 degrees below average and not a constant barrage of severe cold," he adds. The cold air could cause storms to develop in the upper Gulf Coast and travel northeastward, but right now, it's too early to tell.

Related: Winter Slow Cooker Recipes to Survive the Season

About two-thirds of the country will see far below-average temperatures from January 23-27. Those who live near the Great Lakes might encounter lake-effect snow and snow squalls. Fruit growers in Florida should be wary of possible freezes. The polar vortex is predicted to last until the end of January and into the first 10 days in February. And when the cold air leaves, it could cause more snow and ice storms in some regions.

Make sure you check your local forecast often to see what the weather will be like in your community. Keep your house nice and warm when the temperatures drop, and don't go outside if there is severe precipitation.