Is Today the Day After Tomorrow?

The phrase of the day is “polar vortex.”  To clear up the confusion, ‘polar vortex’ is not the name of an Alaskan heavy metal band, an MLS expansion team, or the new Kim Stanley Robinson novel. No, the polar vortex is the reason you had to wear three pairs of thermal socks today. CNN’s International senior meteorologist Brandon Miller explains:

The polar vortex, as it sounds, is circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise direction — a polar low-pressure system.  These winds tend to keep the bitter cold air locked in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is not a single storm. On occasion, this vortex can become distorted and dip much farther south than you would normally find it, allowing cold air to spill southward.

That’s the science behind the phenomenon.  Here’s a collection of photos:

Hold up. Sorry, those photos were from the 2004 sci-fi flic The Day After Tomorrow (via IMDB.com).

Here are a few eerily similar-looking photos of the effects of the polar vortex on several actual American locations:

 

Chicago, via Paul Kingston’s twitter.
Via CBS.com

Via Hank Cain, via Shawn Reynolds/Twitter.

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Via nationalgeographic.com

Via CBS.com

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Via CBS.com

Brrrrrrrrrrrrr