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What exactly is the polar vortex?

By Zachary Lawrence, Research Scientist, University of Colorado Boulder
Amy Butler, Chemistry & Climate Processes Research Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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The media often call unusually cold, snowy storms a 'polar vortex.' The real polar vortex isn't coming down to visit the lower 48, but changes to the polar vortex can influence winter weather.

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