Polar Vortex

I did just write an entry confessing to be obsessed with the weather.  The weather phenomenon that prompted the epiphany that I was taking an abnormal interest in weather forecasts was this: the polar vortex.

I had never heard the phrase polar vortex before but suddenly it was appearing in newscasts and on my weather app so it was clearly something I had to pay attention to.  It transpires that it is the label given to an Arctic cyclone and this particular Arctic cyclone had, as a result of the jet stream, shifted enough to create a severe cold front in parts of Canada and America, including Pennsylvania.  As I type this, we are in the middle of it.

We have been lucky to not have the temperature drop anywhere near as far as it has in other affected states but blooming heck it’s still bitterly cold.  Seriously sub-zero.  We had a power cut yesterday morning that had me a bit worried but power was restored after a few hours which was pretty impressive given the scale of the outage and the weather conditions.  Our house, therefore, has remained a cosy haven.  I have had cause to comment before that it is perishing outside or brass monkeys or a whole range of other phrases to describe a low temperature but I have never, ever experienced cold like this.  Words are going to fail me.  Which is a bit rubbish for a blog but never mind.

The wind last night was ferocious.  The house rattled and thrummed as it was battered and bashed by gales, wind whistled through any small gap it could find, a proper banshee whistle.  The howling and growling was the loudest I have ever heard.  I am not a good sleeper at the best of times but, between the noise levels and my paranoid checking of the trampoline, I barely slept a wink last night.  We live next door to the boys’ Elementary School so the whole round trip to drop them off took just five minutes but within that short space of time I had developed snotsicles.  It’s not dignified nor is it feminine but the fact remains that moisture in my nostrils had turned to ice.  That’s a first experience worth noting for posterity, don’t you think?  The walk to take my youngest to preschool is just a little longer but this morning it involved facing into the wind.  My lungs felt like they were struggling to inflate every time I gulped another breath of sharp, icy air and my cheeks were stinging and felt oddly flushed.  I understood why there were warnings about frostbite from lengthy exposure to these temperatures, especially further north.  The smallest Pict started wailing on the walk back home because his cheeks hurt so much from being battered by the frigid air.  I was wearing at least four layers but the little bits of me that were exposed to the elements were pained.  And I got frost on my spectacles, pretty ferns and fronds of ice creeping across the glass lenses.  Beautiful, yes, but not very handy when trying to cross the road.

But for us, of course, this is a short-term thing and not something that occurs often.  For us this is just a phenomenon, something we have to endure for a very brief period. Experiencing just a little of this fierce, biting cold, however, makes me thankful I don’t live in colder climes and makes me appreciate the fact we have shelter from the elements in terms of adequate clothing, a warm house and hot food to eat.  Not everyone in the world has such basic sources of comfort.  Not everyone in this country does.

So this is my first experience of a polar vortex; I am OK with it being my last.

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