woman walking in blowing snow (polar vortex)*(Via NBC News) – Move over, haboob. See you next summer, heat dome. The weather phenomenon hogging all the attention now is “polar vortex.”

Twenty-six states are under wind-chill warnings or watches, and the polar vortex is to blame, breaking loose from its North Pole confines and plunging the country in a deep, dangerous freeze.
“Think of this as a polar hurricane,” said NBC News’ Al Roker.

It isn’t expected to linger for long but will leave a mark. Here’s what you need to know:

So what exactly is a polar vortex?

A polar vortex is basically a great swirling pool of extremely cold air located tens of thousands of feet in the atmosphere, said Frank Giannasca, senior meteorologist with The Weather Channel.

Basically an arctic cyclone, it ordinarily spins counterclockwise around the north and south poles.

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