A polar vortex is on the way, so if you live in the colder regions of North America, you may want to stock up on hot cocoa and frozen food, because you're in for a weekend of Netflix and chill. But despite its ominous name, how many of us actually understand what a polar vortex even is?
According to this Youtube video by Wochit News, a polar vortex is an area created with both low pressure and cold air in the North and South Poles. The polar vortex behaves like a wheel around each of the poles, though it isn't always steady. Sometimes it wobbles or slopes south, in which case regions like North America get some polar vortex action, too. Northern regions of North America experience particularly cold temperatures during this time.
While the polar vortex circulates the North and South Poles year round, in the winter it becomes weaker, which causes cold air to leak southward with the jet stream. However, while the polar vortex may be associated with bitterly cold temperatures, because it exists so high in the atmosphere, it doesn't actually bring any snow or ice. That said, depending on where you live, it may be cold enough to turn regular precipitation into a snowy blanket.
Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.