What is a Polar Vortex?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021
science behind polar vortex chart

If you’ve spent any time watching the news this week, you’ve heard the meteorologists encouraging us to prepare for cold temperatures ranging from the low teens to high 40s. They say this is due to the polar vortex. Many of you, like us, may be unsure what that is and why it means that us Texans have to prepare for a harsh cold front almost halfway through February. Well, we’ve got the scoop on all things polar vortex.

So, what is a polar vortex? Is it a special endangered breed of polar bear? No. Is it Tesla’s newest electric car? No. According to the National Weather Service, a polar vortex is, “a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles.” And the polar vortex always exists. What causes it to more directly impact the weather here in the United States is the weather changes. The colder air during the winter causes the vortex to strengthen and its reach widen. When the vortex expands, it sends cold air southward by way of the jet stream.

Still not quite sure what a polar vortex is? Check out this short video.

The Critical Three Steps You Need to Prepare for this Crazy Cold Weather:

  1. Seal all drafts from windows or door frames.

If you have large gaps around your windows and door frames, it’ll be hard for you to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Stop by your local hardware store this weekend and pick up the materials you need to stop those drafts.

  1. Check your propane levels.

If your home runs on propane, you want to make sure the tank has plenty of fuel to get you through these cold temperatures. There is nothing worse than waking up to find you’ve run out of propane in the middle of the night and now your home is cold, cold, cold.

  1. Have your routine maintenance done.

Unfortunately, your heating and cooling system does not come with a warning program to let you know if something needs replacing or is about to break. So, how do you catch these issues before they break and leave you stranded with no heat? Have routine maintenance done. A certified technician will be able to spot oncoming issues before they become bigger, more costly repairs. They, essentially, are your warning program. Be sure you have your equipment maintained annually or semiannually (depending on the age of your equipment), especially before a big polar vortex.

  1. Make sure your outdoor faucets are covered.

Taking just a few moments and for just a few bucks, you can ward off frozen pipes by covering them. Also, keep the cabinets under your faucets open so the heat can keep them warm and prevent ice.

Long story short: during the winter, polar vortexes are more prone to expand and send cold air southward causing sudden temperature changes. As you prepare for the coming weather, make sure your home is well insulated and sealed from drafts, check your propane levels and have routine maintenance done to ensure your system is ready to fight off the cold weather and keep you and your family nice and warm.

No matter the weather, our team will be here 24/7 to serve you. You can always count on Daffan Cooling and Heating, your home’s best friend.

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