Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

A Late Polar Vortex Could Bring Record Cold Temperatures to Northeastern U.S.

Climate
Below-average temperatures are expected in the Midwest and East this weekend. NOAA / National Weather Service

It will be warmer in Fairbanks, Alaska, than it will be in New York City, Philadelphia, Cleveland and even Atlanta this weekend, AccuWeather predicted Wednesday.


The reason? The polar vortex is heading south, bringing with it potentially record-low temperatures for May, CNBC explained. BAM Weather meteorologist Ryan Maue said that more and more scientists are beginning to link weather swings like this one with the climate crisis.

"This is not just some random one-off weather event but an obvious trend toward hyper-extreme atmospheric circulations outside the normal bounds of what we typically experience in May," Maue told CNBC. "It's not always hotter and drier with rapid climate change, but also colder and wetter."


The cold weather is coming because part of the polar vortex will separate from its circulation over the Arctic and dip down over the eastern Great Lakes and New England, The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang explained.

This will likely break records for upper-air temperatures, leading to readings of negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit at the 500-millibar level (about 18,000 feet above sea level) over upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania, and Lakes Erie and Ontario.

"Of course, no one lives at the 500 millibar pressure level in this region, but meteorologists look to this temperature as an indication of how unusually cold is an air mass," Matthew Cappucci wrote for The Washington Post. "With air that cold upstairs, it's no surprise that surface temperatures are going to be chilly as well."

On the surface, record-low daily maximums could reach Boston, Providence, Rhode Island and Hartford, Connecticut. Other places could also report record lows for May, as temperatures in the mid-20s are forecast for Detroit and Pittsburgh, CNBC reported.

Cold temperatures will be most extreme east of the Rockies, over the Great Lakes and in the Northeast, where they could be as much as 20 to 25 degrees below seasonal highs.

However, it could freeze as far south as northern Georgia and in the higher elevations in the Carolinas, The Washington Post reported.

It could also snow over the Appalachian Trail from North Carolina to Maine and in New England. While May snows have been recorded with similar weather patterns in places like Buffalo, New York and Pittsburgh, this weekend's snowfall is predicted to be more widespread, AccuWeather reported. It could cover a 500-mile stretch from Ohio to New England, which AccuWeather said was unusual.

Scientists are investigating whether the Arctic's rapid warming is making it more unstable, pushing cold air further south, CNBC reported. A 2018 study found that there had been more times when the polar vortex had weakened in the winter over the last 37 years.

"The cold is very unusual," Maue told CNBC. "It is difficult to pinpoint the cause-and-effect or correlation-causation with extreme weather events and climate change. But changes in the behavior of the jet stream are becoming more accepted by scientists looking for physical reasoning behind what we are seeing on weather maps."

While the cold snap may make social distancing easier, it could be a challenge for those who have been prompted by coronavirus lockdowns to try home gardening.

"Get ready to cover or bring in any sensitive plants you bought during the surge of warm weather this past weekend," Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather's top long-range forecaster, said.

He warned that the cold temperatures could have a negative impact on new or sensitive plants, orchards and vineyards.







EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Daniel Yetman

Bleach and vinegar are common household cleaners used to disinfect surfaces, cut through grime, and get rid of stains. Even though many people have both these cleaners in their homes, mixing them together is potentially dangerous and should be avoided.

Read More Show Less
During a protest action on May 30 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Datteln in front of the site of the Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant, Greenpeace activists projected the lettering: "Climate crisis - Made in Germany" onto the cooling tower. Guido Kirchner / picture alliance / Getty Images

Around 500 climate activists on Saturday gathered outside the new Datteln 4 coal power plant in Germany's Ruhr region, to protest against its opening.

Read More Show Less
Dr. Mark Brunswick (2R), Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality, walks through the lab at Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California on May 22. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Ries

Around the world, there have been several cases of people recovering from COVID-19 only to later test positive again and appear to have another infection.

Read More Show Less

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less
Meadow Lake wind farm in Indiana. Anthony / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The first official tallies are in: Coronavirus-related shutdowns helped slash daily global emissions of carbon dioxide by 14 percent in April. But the drop won't last, and experts estimate that annual emissions of the greenhouse gas are likely to fall only about 7 percent this year.

Read More Show Less
Andrey Nikitin / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst

Plants are awesome. They brighten up your space and give you a living thing you can talk to when there are no humans in sight.

Turns out, having enough of the right plants can also add moisture (aka humidify) indoor air, which can have a ton of health benefits.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
Read More Show Less