Whenever we talk about cold weather the first term that comes to mind is Dilli ki Sardi. The max to which the mercury might dip in Delhi is -2 or -3, think about the harshness of weather when we say that Chicago was cooler than Mt. Everest yesterday. Yes, we are not exaggerating, it is actually the situation with which people of Chicago are going through.
Reports suggest that Chicago has been colder than Antarctica this year, and has even crossed it’s earlier lowest record which was -16 degree Celsius. This was called as the Chiberia event and occurred in 2014.
But in 2019, all of the U.S has recorded mercury on very low levels. Even Mars recently had better temperatures than Chicago. The Mars Curiosity Rover has temperature gauges, and according to NASA’s website, the most recent weather data from Mars showed a high of 19°. In Chicago, the temperature has declined steeply to as low as -40 degree Celsius.
Why Chicago is so cold?
Due to the Polar Vortex, the city has frozen to ice quite literally. Reports have revealed that for the first time in history the temperatures have dipped so low in the entire U.S.
The Polar Vortex is a system of winds that swirl around the North Pole and the South Pole. It is an upper-level area with low pressure and cold winds, which are responsible for the extreme temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic. It is due to a sudden shift of the Arctic polar vortex towards southwest that North America is facing a brutal temperature.
Two sets of air currents determine which parts of North America and Europe get blasted by Arctic air each winter. The stratospheric polar vortex is a smallish patch of low-pressure air that circulates, anti-clockwise, in a ring some 48km (30 miles) above the Arctic. It helps to trap the coldest air near the pole and forms only in winter.
A second current, the polar jet stream, flows all year round, at an altitude of about 11km, and covers a much larger area.
It is affected both by the temperatures and air pressure in different parts of the globe and by the spinning of the Earth. When the Arctic is cold and lower latitudes are reliably warm, the jet stream is more stable.
The problem for America’s Midwest is that the Arctic has warmed unusually fast, a result of more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and so the polar jet stream is fluctuating more widely. As a result, the stratospheric polar vortex may slow down, and colder air is drawn southwards. A similar sort of shift in the air currents helped to cause the “Beast from the East” that chilled western Europe in 2018.
While it is quite hard to sustain such cold weather, but the spirit of the people is applaud worthy. They are still trying to sustain life in such hard conditions. The railway tracks are being set on fire so that the transport and communication services are not halted. People have been advised to stay indoors as being outside for only 5 minutes can result in frostbite.
There are plenty of videos on the internet, where the people are seen throwing boiling water in the air, and it instantly turned into ice. There are others who are throwing water on their window panes from inside and it turns into snow. The cold weather is expected to continue for some more days and the temperature may further dip.