AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Another blast of cold weather is on the way this week thanks to the polar vortex, a swirling mass of bitterly cold air in the Arctic. It is always there, even in the summer, but changes in the winter can lead to dramatic shifts in temperature.
The polar vortex is similar to a spinning top. A strong polar vortex is like a fast spinning top and stays well to the north. A fast-moving ribbon of air known as the jet stream also stays north, keeping the brutal cold locked in place.
A weak polar vortex is like a slow spinning top. It wobbles and the jet stream can steer pieces of it that break off south. This is what happens when arctic air visits the deep South. This latest cold snap is likely being influenced by El Niño conditions in the central and eastern Pacific. In past El Niño years, the bitter cold has held off until later in the winter.