When thinking of tornadoes, the average person visualizes a violent rotation of air, typically spawned from an existing thunderstorm, during periods of warm, moist weather. In the United States, tornadoes occur most frequently within the spring and summer months. In an unprecedented meteorological study, scientists have discovered that a tornado potential exists during periods of cold and snow, and the Polar Vortex may be to blame.
The Polar Vortex can extend from the stratosphere all the way to the mid-troposphere, and is a series of cold core cyclones within the layers of the atmosphere. Researchers have determined that in the past, the Polar Vortex is to blame for other serious weather phenomenon, such as volcanic eruptions and ozone depletion.
Dr. Julius George, PhD, in association with the Wyoming Institute of Technology, lead a team of meteorological experts to find out if tornadoes can develop within a cold core cyclonic system. Afterall, tornadoes themselves are cyclones too, and are produced when sharp temperature changes occur in the layers of the atmosphere.
Dr. George was able to conclude after strenuous research, that tornadoes do have the potential to metamorphose to polar conditions, and impetuously uncovered scientific facts that sustain a higher potential for tornadoes during snow events that create the phenomenon of thundersnow.
The textbook definition of a tornado is a violently rotating column of air, whirling around an area of extreme low pressure. Low pressure systems occur in the United States during every month of the year. The development of any type of severe weather depends on the strength of low pressure, whether it be a warm type of severe weather, or a cold type.
The unknown factor throughout Dr. George’s study, is what strength these potential tornadoes may have when combined with the effects of the Polar Vortex. Is it likely that the state of Pennsylvania could see an EF-5 strength tornado during a blizzard in December? Dr. George thinks so, as it has yet to be disproved.
According to Dr. George, some of the most potent tornadic events have resulted from cold core phenomenon. Cold core tornadoes occur at temperatures significantly lower than average tornadoes, and do not need as much moisture to survive as a normal tornado would. For example, in December of 2012, an extremely rare cold core tornado outbreak struck the southern United States, producing at least six individual tornadoes over a span of at least three states.
In conclusion, the Polar Vortex is to blame for sub-zero temperatures, premature snowfall, and now substantiates a dangerous risk for cold weather cyclones. The best plan of action is to stay in tune to local media outlets and weather sources for the most up to date weather information as the Polar Vortex comes knocking on your door.