The Deep Freeze: United States and the shifting ‘Polar vortex’
Why did it get so cold in North America?
In early January 2014 North America experienced heavy snow storms and freezing weather. On 7 January all 50 US states had temperatures below freezing. Many states are used to sub-zero temperatures in the winter but usually some states will stay above freezing (typically those which border the Gulf of Mexico such as Florida, Texas or Louisiana).
The extreme snow storms and plummeting temperatures were largely blamed on a shift in the pattern of a phenomenon known as the polar vortex, sending colder air further south than usual.
In addition to contributing to knowledge about climatic phenomenon more generally this case study may be useful for the following areas:
AQA: Unit 3 Contemporary Global Issues – Weather/climate and associated hazards
OCR: F763 Global Issues – Option 3: Climatic hazards
Edexcel: Unit 2 Geographical Investigations – Extreme weather
WJEC: G1 Changing Physical Environments – Theme 1: Investigating climate change
In the Members' Area:
- What is a polar vortex?
- How did the movement of the polar vortex affect the US?
- How do the temperatures compare?