Polar Vortex: The Good, the Bad and the Silly

Polar Vortex

Record freezing temperatures have been recorded across the U.S this week due to the Polar Vortex that has crossed over the U.S region. Scientific America reports that the current temperatures experienced in the region are more on par with a day on Mars. This Polar Vortex not only brings record lows but can bring out the good, the bad and the silly.

As global warmth melts the Arctic ice, the temperature between the frozen north and the American continent decreases. The jet stream, a west-east current that circles the Northern Hemisphere, normally keeps low-pressure cold air in the region of the Arctic and holds higher-pressure warm air above the more temperate regions further away from the pole. This jet stream, otherwise known as the Polar Vortex has delivered record lows and freezing air over the U.S.

Reactions to the frigid air carried on the Polar Vortex have been mixed. Forecasters are warning people to prepare for the shock of stepping outside this week. Already there have been six deaths reported in Illinois alone, although only one of these seems the result of exposure.  As tragic as these deaths are, there is still some good and a bit of silliness that has come out of the sudden freeze brought on by the Polar Vortex.

An escaped prisoner in Kentucky turned himself in as the icy weather dropped below freezing. The man, who is doing a six year sentence for burglary and criminal possession, entered a motel earlier this week and asked the clerk to call the police. He was wearing only the standard issue prison uniform of khaki pants, shirt and a jacket. Police in the area stated, “This was definitely of his own volition. It’s cold out there, too cold to run around. I can understand why the suspect would turn himself in.” The man has been treated for hypothermia and is now returned to the Blackburn Correctional Complex.

However, there were also those people who took advantage of the freezing weather to enjoy themselves. In Minnesota three brothers spent 95 hours creating an epic 16 foot shark out of snow. The brothers say they enjoyed the process of creating the shark as a way to not only put smiles on the faces of their neighbors, but as a bonding exercise between them.

Other, less epic, but still interesting ways to enjoy the freezing air was the practice of a relatively easy scientific experiment. Many people took the opportunity to indulge their amateur scientist in a test of the weather by throwing boiling water into the cold air and watching it turn immediately to snow. So far over fifty people have reported that the experiment resulted in burns, mainly to the hands and face. Some even reported third degree burns resulting in hospital visits, yet all maintained that despite the pain, the effect was beautiful. Still, for anyone who wishes to try this experiment, Liz Klimas from theblaze.com has some tips to remember:

  • Ensure the temperature is in fact cold enough to do this trick. The temperature needs to be well below zero.
  • Judge the direction the wind is blowing and toss  accordingly to avoid the water blowing back and causing burns.
  • Throw the water out and away from the body or any onlookers.
  • Toss only a small amount of boiling water as opposed to a large pot.
  • Consider not attempting this trick at all and just watching the videos of others doing it instead.

The frigid conditions continue unabated for now, but forecasters expect the chill to move east across the country.  The Polar Vortex not only brought freezing weather, but a chance to enjoy the ice and snow, indulge in family fun and silliness, as well as the tragedy of death.

By Sara Watson


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