Disrupted polar vortex to blame for low temps

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Commuters wait in the street Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, for a Chicago Transit Authority bus in the Bronzville neighborhood of Chicago. A winter storm has blanketed the Chicago area overnight with up to 18.5 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


KENSINGTON, Md. (AP) — Meteorologists blame the historic chilly weather on a large disruption of the polar vortex with Arctic weather that’s normally kept penned near the North Pole, but it escaped and sent cold temperatures south.

Experts say this polar vortex is stronger and longer than usual, and these events are happening twice as often as they used to. They say it could be a mix of natural weather variations and human-caused climate change, but they’re not sure.

The events show how vulnerable America is to extreme weather —both hot and cold— which increases with climate change, scientists said.

“One thing that Texas situation highlights is that we are likely to deal with more compound extreme weather events – multiple event weather systems that have cascading impacts on society and our infrastructure,” according to University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd.