The Raging Stratospheric Polar Vortex Reaches Its Coldest Temperature in 40 Years

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The stratospheric polar vortex turns beastly, as it reaches its coldest temperature in the past 40 years.

It is set to connect down and dominate our weather patterns as it spins at over 600km/h on top! This will push cold air into USA but mild air into Europe.

polar stratospheric vortex high speed
Polar vortex wind speed at 30km altitude. Picture by Severe-Weather.eu

New radiosonde data obtained over Reykjavik, Iceland, show that the stratospheric polar vortex reached its lowest temperature at -96°C (-141°F) in the past 40 years.

stratospheric polar vortex coldest temperature
Latest radiosonde data of stratospheric polar vortex show it has reached its coldest temperature in 40 years. Image: Universtiy of Wyoming

The raw data below show that -96°C was reached at 17.2mb level (25.6 km or 84,000 feet) altitude.

stratospheric polar vortex coldest temperature
stratospheric polar vortex coldest temperature in 40 years based on new radiosonde datat from the University of Wyoming.

Looking at the globe below (10mb), the NASA/GMAO analysis of the black spots around West Iceland and South-East Greenland shows that Greenland dark spot is at -97°C. However, this calculation hasn’t been verified by a direct temperature measurement.

Record temperature for the stratospheric polar vortex in January 2020
Record temperature for the stratospheric polar vortex in January 2020. Severe-Weather.eu

This is the coldest temperature in the last 40 years (MERRA-2 data set). Such cold temperatures enable the formation of Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSC).

or here over Sweden:

and here above Finland:

How does the polar stratospheric vortex influences our weather?

Temperature is one indicator of the strength of the polar vortex, but its wind spped gives a better estimate of its strength and thus its possible influence on our weather.

A good way to estimate the power of the polar vortex/circulation is with the graph below in which negative values mean a weaker vortex while positive values mean a stronger vortex. The forecast clearly show that the polar vortex is strengthening (positive values).

polar stratospheric vortex is increasing in power
The polar stratospheric vortex is increasing in power.

Stratospheric Polar Vortex rages

The wind speeds of the stratospheric polar jet at different altitudes is amazingly high with 400kmh (249mph) at 10mb (30km or 131,000 feet).

polar stratospheric vortex high speed
Polar vortex wind speed at 30km altitude. Picture by Severe-Weather.eu

And 600kmh (373mph) at 1mb (45km or 148,000 feet). The polar vortex is currentl a ferocious a beast.

polar stratospheric vortex high speed
Polar vortex wind speed at 45km altitude. Severe-Weather.eu

The polar vortex circulation over Greenland promotes cold temperatures into the United States and Canada and mild temperatures in Europe. More headlines on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [Severe Weather]

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