Polar vortex brings cold temps, high winds to WNC

Jan 2, 2014

The cold weather sweeping across the U.S. Monday and Tuesday has been referred to as brutal, frigid, arctic, and wicked.

But the meteorological term for the cold front that’s stretching from Texas to Minnesota is officially called a “polar vortex.”

It's the reason the National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning for the region from 6 p.m. Monday to noon Tuesday, and the cold snap has already caused several school closures and delays in the region,

Retired UNCA professor of atmospheric sciences at Ed Brotek says a polar vortex is a low-pressure area high above the earth’s surface. Low pressures means cold temperatures, and normally these areas are much farther north.

Below, Brotek talks about about what how the polar vortex could impact weather here in Western North Carolina.


Here's the National Weather Service forecast Western North Carolina:

  • Monday: Mostly cloudy, windy and cold, with highs around 20. Some scattered snow flurries this morning and a chance of snow showers this afternoon. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch possible. Temperatures falling to around 11 this afternoon. Northwest winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. Wind chill values as low as -14 this afternoon. 
  • Monday night: Mostly cloudy and very windy. Much colder with lows around 3 below.  Northwest winds up to 45 mph, and wind chill as cold as -27. 
  • Tuesday: Sunny and windy and cold.  Cold with highs around 15.  Winds up to 45 mph in the morning. Wind chill as cold as -27.
  • Tuesday night: Mostly clear and cold. Near steady temperatures around 11. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph.
  • Wednesday:    Mostly sunny. Not as cool with highs in the upper 30s.