We have been enjoying a pleasant stretch of weather in January of 2021. It is about the only thing that seems to have been working in our favour of late. However, there have been rumblings that the polar vortex is going to make an appearance soon and end the above-normal temperatures that we have been enjoying.

The polar vortex screams subzero temperatures in the minus ’30s and ’40s and conjures images of people bent against the cold as they scurry to their destinations. Vehicles and tires are so stiff from the cold that they can barely move. Is that what is coming with the weather pattern change? Is the coming polar vortex an extreme weather event coming our way, or are we simply going to get some typical January weather?

Blaine Lowry with Environment Canada was able to answer that question. With a chuckle, he replies, “Really it’s just because it’s January. I think the notable thing is how warm it has been so far. The weather that is coming in of itself is not that notable.”

Lowry feels that the term “polar vortex” tends to be an overused term. The polar vortex is a pool of cold air in the mid to upper atmosphere which typically spins up in the Hudson Bay or arctic islands of Canada through most of the winter, that is the true polar vortex. The irony is in the way that people tend to use the term when we get our colder outbreaks in our area and further south. Our cold weather is typically due to a breakdown of the polar vortex and lobes of the cold weather float into our area.

So, what does this all mean? What can we be expecting? Lowry says, “We are going to be dropping, by the end of this week, to slightly below normal temperatures for daytime highs. The shocking thing is we really haven’t had that for an extended period of time yet this winter.”

According to Lowry, the really good news is, “No, we are not going to be seeing those minus 30 or minus 40 temperatures with this one in particular. By the weekend, we are looking at daytime highs in the minus 10 to 15 range with overnight lows in the minus 20-25 range. Slightly below average for this time of year.”

The kicker is it is going to feel polar cold compared to pleasant temperatures we have been experiencing over the last month and a half.  So, the rumour of the polar vortex descending upon us is true, but take heart in knowing that it is not going to be as bad as it could be.  Let’s face it, we are getting off lucky because it is mid-January after all.