Polar Vortex Splits Under Warming Stratosphere

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 25 January 2019




Wet and Stormy Week for all California; Dry Dipole Pattern to Follow


"...the consensus: the recent stratospheric sudden warming (SSW) event, followed by a breakdown of the stratospheric polar vortex, is now slowly beginning to “couple” with the troposphere below (i.e., the layer where all our weather happens)."

"As this occurs, lobes of cold polar air become displaced to lower latitudes and induce a very wavy pattern in the jet stream–setting up persistent ridges (blocks) and downstream troughs in preferred locations. Unfortunately, California and the West Coast are often at the longitude of a preferred ridge when there is a significant perturbation to the hemispheric flow pattern–and that appears to be the main cause of the projected upcoming ridge pattern. There are currently indications this pattern could persist for 4 weeks or more"

The Polar Vortex Has Fallen Apart, Which is Likely to Unleash a Much Colder End to January,
Weather Channel, January 16, 2019.



High Altitude View of the Polar Vortex


10 hPa, roughly 84,998.2 feet of elevation.

A rough table of pressures and altitudes.



Original 2018 Article



The Earth’s Atmosphere
Chart of the Layers of the Earth's Atmosphere, Credit to NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS).
Credit to NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). More Atmospheric Information below.


 Early 2018

Crashing Climate News

Polar Vortex Splits Under Warming Stratosphere

The Polar Vortex Has Split,
Weather Channel, February 13, 2018.


"...now two smaller vortices: one over western Canada and another over Europe. Across the Arctic, where the polar vortex typically stays locked, the stratosphere has warmed. This typically kicks into motion a polar vortex disruption like we are seeing."

"...high confidence that a cold weather pattern will grip Europe at the end of February and the start of March."


What's Up
Way Up

The stratosphere extends from the top of the troposphere, the troposphere being the lowest, and, "thickest," layer of our atmosphere. The troposphere is where the vast majority of the moisture-energy interactions we know as, "weather" happens. We find that the top of the troposphere varys from between 5 to 9 miles above the Earth's surface. The stratosphere sits on top of the troposphere, reaching to 31 miles above our planet’s surface.

Tropospheric airs are dense and thick with water, both of which hold more energy. Stratospheric airs are light and thin, holding less water and energy.

One of the ways we observe the weather up there is by using maps layered by the decreasing pressure gradient as we ascend higher up into our atmosphere.

Global Pressures and Anomalies

This system of observation gives us the information to create surface and upper air maps.

US and Northeast Pacific Weather Maps

As we climb higher in the atmosphere we reach lower pressure layers of atmosphere which are constantly and quickly moving. Ligh air in the upper atmosphere is constantly and quickly moving to fill in the voids, to flow into low pressure areas, and flow away from high pressure, rushing out of the high pressure zones. All this motion is happening at every level of our atmosphere, but things really pick up speed at high altitudes, where we find rivers of "light" air flowing at hundreds of miles an hour between vast mountains of dense air piled up into vast highs next to deep valleys of low pressure air (holding wicked storms!) as we approach the top of the troposphere and bottom of the stratosphere: great moving mountains of rotating highs and deep vortexes of spinning lows with fierce rivers of light air filling in every gap between them ASAP.

Altitudes, Pressures, and Upper Air Maps

These high altitude rivers of air, our "Jet Streams," form seasonal patterns exhibiting behaviors that are useful for both understanding what's happening, and forcasting what's going to happen next.

Upper Air Maps at 500 mb: The Steering Level


My Observations
No More
Winter, "Spin Down."



Split Polar Vortex

Sierra Nevada & California looking at 50 to 70% cooler than normal temperatures.

Using this view of the Earth we can see that the counter-clockwise spin of our "copy" of these errant twin spinning vortexs is sitting above Hudsons Bay, from where it is directing its sweep of cold Arctic air through the Northwestern US.

It could get very cold in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


2019: TOP


High Sierra Backpacker's Weather Page



Last Polar Vortex News

Warm Arctic Chills Dixie? Warming Arctic Channels Frigid Air South


Polar Vortex Links


Polar Vortex Information



Composition of the Earth's Atmosphere

Eath's Atmospheric Layers

Peeling Back the Layers of the Atmosphere,
NOAA, February 22, 2016.

Layers of the Atmosphere,
NWS Jetstream.


Want to Watch?
See, "Earth"

Air pressures and their associated altitudes




Arctic Ice Melting








January 2019 News of Man & Nature




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climate change news Polar Vortex splits under warming stratosphere


Originally Published
2018-02-17 22:07:07

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