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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

12:45 PM | What's happening at the North Pole?

Paul Dorian


There is lots of interest in the North Pole this time of year and some of it actually has to do with the weather. As most around here would suspect, the first two weeks of December have been well above normal temperature-wise in the Mid-Atlantic region (Philly +3.8 degrees, DC +2.0 degrees, Central Park +4.3 degrees). There are, however, some indications that the overall temperature pattern could change here to one that is considerably colder around Christmas time or just beyond. One area to monitor for a possible temperature pattern change here in the eastern US is the very upper part of the atmosphere over the North Pole. Studies have indicated that a sudden weakening of the polar vortex or even a reversal to high pressure this time of year can actually lead to blocking in the Arctic which, in turn, can lead to colder weather in the US some 10 days or so later. This type of event is referred to as “stratospheric warming”. There are reasons to believe that the current "typical" polar vortex pattern will, in fact, undergo a change in the next week or so, and this could, in turn, lead to much colder weather around here towards the latter part of December. Several models (GFS, CMC, NOGAPS), in fact, support the notion of a temperature pattern change here in the US later this month and we’ll continue to monitor the situation over the next several days.