The Polar Vortex Isn’t What Twitter Says It Is — Matt Makens

Here’s an excerpt:

The term polar vortex has been thrown around all week to describe the bitter cold that has gripped much of the nation since last weekend. While trending highly in popularity, the term polar vortex is erroneous in how it has been used. The polar vortex lives near the North Pole region year round and isn’t cold air, it is a low pressure area high in the atmosphere between 20-40,000 feet and higher. In the age of social media and “we’ll do anything for clicks” — that doesn’t seem to matter.

It can give off a bit of its own energy to create a low pressure area that moves south into the United States, as it did this week, but that also resides well into the atmosphere.

Although popular in news headlines of late, it’s highly inaccurate to say that the cold snap was the polar vortex. I guess its a sexier headline than saying something accurate, like “US hit by mass of cold air associated with an offshoot of the polar vortex!” But that’s a horribly long #hashtag.

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