What exactly is a polar vortex? | Michigan Radio

What exactly is a polar vortex?

Dec 1, 2014

Credit Sami / Flickr

Those of us who lived through last winter are now familiar with the term "polar vortex." But are we using that phrase correctly? Sara Schultz is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake. Exactly what IS the polar vortex? And what is it not?

Listen to Sara Schultz above

Schultz says the polar vortex is something that has always been there, but was always confined near the pole. However, as was the case last year, sometimes parts of the system break away, and areas further south end up with much colder weather than normal. Asked about this year’s winter weather outlook, Schultz says it's expected to be slightly colder than normal, but with normal snowfall.