Although it may appear like you are living in a winter wonderland, temperatures can suddenly change, leading to threats. An example of this is a polar vortex. So, what is it, and how can you protect and prepare against one?
Polar Vortex – what is it?
What is a polar vortex? This question needs to be framed in light of the conditions that create it. The National Weather Service defines it as:
“It is both a large area of low pressure and cold air around the Earth’s poles. It always exists near the pole but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter. The term Vortex describes the counterclockwise flow of warm air surrounded by cold air. This frequently occurs during wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere and is associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States”.
January 2014’s outbreak was similar to other cold outbreaks in the past, including several notable cases in 1977, 1982, 1985, and 1989.
In January 2019, one of the lowest recorded temperatures resulting from the polar Vortex was -31 °F (Northern Illinois). It was even colder with wind chills as low as -56 °F in parts of the Central United States.
HOW TO GET READY FOR A POLAR VORTEX?
While polar vortexes are not a new phenomenon and are not necessarily cause for alarm, they are certainly not something to be taken lightly. Here are some precautions you should take to help you prepare for this upcoming cold front.
Dress for the weather and try to spend as little time outside as possible
It would be best if you tried to stay inside in a polar vortex because brutally cold temperatures can lead to frostbite. If you must go outside, wear extreme cold-weather gear such as heated clothing that ensures you the extra warmth you need in the freezing and windy weather. Think about putting on a good heated Jacket, gloves, socks, a heated beanie, and heated base layers if you know you will be outside during the Vortex.
When you go out alone, make sure someone is aware of your plans. Polar Vortex related deaths have occurred from freezing, so always have someone available that knows to check up on you and take appropriate action if necessary.
Keep an Eye on your Reserves
Have you got enough oil or fuel to get you through the Polar Vortex? Is your supply of wood and pellets running low? Contact your supplier right away and schedule a delivery before the depot is booked out. When you are at it, make sure there is no blockage at your furnace’s intake or exhaust and no obstructions of vents or heat sources in your home. This could cause a carbon monoxide poisoning scenario.
Do not let the Pipes Freeze
You do not want your pipes to freeze or burst during a polar vortex. Make sure warm air can reach your pipes by letting them breathe. Also, keep all faucets running to reduce the chance of water freezing.
Do not Forget Car Survival Kit
Whenever polar vortexes hit, cars face the danger of running sub-par, with the possibility of battery or engine freezing up. The National Weather Service recommends keeping a winter car survival kit on hand just in case this happens.
Take the proper precautions and wear the appropriate heated clothes, no matter what the weather throws at you. Stay safe out there!