NASA Image Shows Polar Vortex Slamming Into U.S.
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As the east coast of the U.S. braces for Nor'easter Nemo, what's the weather been like for other countries around the world? Here, a young girl is pictured with her dog and a pony as it snows near Warsaw, Poland on Feb. 7, 2013.
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Afghan motor-cyclists ride in front of the war-damaged Darlaman Palace in Kabul on Feb. 7, 2013.
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A snow plow clears a road on Feb. 7, 2013, in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.
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Snow covers the pavement in front of the Semperoper (Semper Opera House) in Dresden, eastern Germany, on Feb. 7, 2013.
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Pakistani Kashmiris walk through the snow in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir on Feb. 6, 2013.
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Commuters shelter from the snow under umbrellas whilst on their way to work in Tokyo on February 6, 2013.
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Indonesian people wade through a flooded main street in Jakarta on Feb. 6, 2013.
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Indonesian motorists maneuver through a flooded main street in Jakarta on Feb. 6, 2013.
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A Kashmiri fisherman rows his boat during a sunny day at Dal Lake, on Feb. 6, 2013 in Srinagar, India.
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Cars stand still on a road after snowfalls on Feb. 6, 2013 in Essen, western Germany.
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A rickshaw puller trying to protect himself from showers with umbrella on Feb. 5, 2013 in Noida, India.
NASA today released this image of the polar vortex, the weird atmospheric twitch that flooded into the United States last month. The purple wavy line above that wanders down from the Arctic shows the below-average temperatures that set cold records in many states.
From NASA's Facebook page:
"The Big Chill - Blistering cold air from the Arctic plunged southward this winter, breaking U.S. temperature records. A persistent pattern of winds spins high above the Arctic in winter. The winds, known as the polar vortex, typically blow in a fairly tight circular formation. But in late December 2013 and early January 2014, the winds loosened and frigid Arctic air spilled farther south than usual, deep into the continental United States. On Jan. 6, 2014, alone, approximately 50 daily record low temperatures were set, from Colorado to Alabama to New York, according to the National Weather Service. In some places temperatures were 40 degrees Fahrenheit colder than average."
Why has the polar vortex periodically stopped doing its job over the past five years -- holding Arctic temperatures where they belong, in the Arctic -- and decided to go walkies? Put simply: no one really knows.
There's speculation that the quick warming of the Arctic is somehow affecting the wintertime actions of the polar vortex. But, experts say, not enough data has been collected yet for any solid evidence of that.
It's a bit of an atmospheric mystery that makes you want to ... shudder.