Stratospheric warming is sending Chicago to the deep freeze - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Stratospheric warming is sending Chicago to the deep freeze

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Frigid Arctic air has been pent up across the Hudson Bay area for several weeks now stuck under the influence a strong polar area of low pressure also known as the "polar vortex."

But now that polar freezer is about to be flung open in our direction because that polar vortex has been weakened by something known as "sudden stratospheric warming." This occurs when large atmospheric Rossby waves, which circle the Earth dividing areas of extreme cold and hot air, extend themselves beyond the lower layer of the atmosphere known as the troposphere and enter the stratosphere above.

Through a complex process this affects the polar vortex allowing it to weaken and spread cold air southward into the eastern 2/3 of the United States. It is expected that this pattern will persist through February and possibly March with few if any warm-ups.

Bottom line is Winter may be starting late, but it's arriving with a bang. Temperatures in the Chicago area Monday and Tuesday will struggle to reach upper single digits and teens with overnight lows at or below zero.

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