Freezing your butt in North America? Probably not a strong polar vortex!


From Top L, clockwise: Pacific Trough, Arctic High, Alaskan Ridge, Arctic LowSimon Lee

Winter weather patterns in North America are dictated by changes to the polar vortex winds high in the atmosphere, but the most significant cold snaps are more likely influenced by the tropics, scientists have found…

It is already well established that the vortex wind strength influences weather in Europe and Asia, and the study revealed it also has a strong effect on three out of the four main winter weather patterns in North America, giving forecasters an additional tool to understand potentially high-impact weather during winter.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, also revealed that, unlike in Europe, the most extreme cold snaps affecting the whole of North America are not most likely to occur after a weak vortex. Instead, the shape of the vortex and conditions in the tropics were identified as stronger influences of these conditions…

(Researchers) found widespread extreme cold is more common when an area of high pressure extends up to Alaska, and the polar vortex stretches down towards North America – pushing cold Arctic air southward in the lower atmosphere.

The scientists say the influence of the stratosphere on weather patterns, as well as how this interacts with long-term weather patterns in the tropics like El Niño, should be studied further and incorporated into forecasts to improve their accuracy.

Still, awfully complex. Certainly requiring a CPU stronger than my little gray cells. But, my confidence in forecasters incorporating more into their offerings isn’t diminished. Technology keeps on rocking, capabilities continue to grow and expand.

In 1960, ~half-million teens took a test that, now, may predict their risk of Alzheimer’s

❝ In 1960, Joan Levin, 15, took a test that turned out to be the largest survey of American teenagers ever conducted. It took two-and-a-half days to administer and included 440,000 students from 1,353 public, private and parochial high schools across the country — including Parkville Senior High School in Parkville, Md., where she was a student.

“We knew at the time that they were going to follow up for a long time,” Levin said — but she thought that meant about 20 years.

Fifty-eight years later, the answers she and her peers gave are still being used by researchers — most recently in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. A study released this month found that subjects who did well on test questions as teenagers had a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias in their 60s and 70s than those who scored poorly.

A worthwhile read. I have my own opinions. They probably fit in here somewhere with the work and analysis of these researchers. Like Jeff Bezos, my concern goes all the way into pre-school education.