Cat in the Stax: Polar Vortex
By Ethan Shea
Last weekend brought some freezing temperatures, a dramatic change from the 50+ degree weather we enjoyed earlier last week and will be encountering once again later this week. Meteorologists blamed the frigid cold on a “polar vortex,” one of the many meteorological terms added to our vernacular over the past few years. Akin to phrases like “arctic blast,” “bomb cyclone” or “heat dome,” weather seems to become stranger every year.
This time around, the Arctic air was sent in the form of a polar vortex, but it was only aimed at the Northeastern U.S. because of a bomb cyclone in the Labrador Sea. A bomb cyclone can appear in several forms, as it is only defined as a rapidly intensifying storm, but because of the location of this particular storm, the pressure of the system coupled with another sent some of the coldest air in the world to the American Northeast.
Last weekend’s wild weather was the coldest the Northeast has seen in decades. In fact, the highest point in the Northeast, the summit of Mt. Washington, set a record for the coldest windchill ever recorded in the United States, even including Alaska. Atop Mt. Washington wind chill reached a frigid minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit as hurricane force winds combined with minus 47 degree air temperatures.
At minus 18 degrees, frostbite can affect exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes. One can only imagine how quickly minus 108 degrees can become deadly.
Many of these extreme weather patterns are caused by climate change, even when they entail weather becoming colder than normal rather than hotter. For more information on climate change, you can check out Falvey’s Environmental Science Subject Guide or browse a plethora of resources on the topic in the stacks.
Here are a few, just for starters:
- Climate and Climate Change – John Rafferty
- Climate Change: Legislative Issues and Economic Costs – Iyana Hendricks
- Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future – Jason Smerdon
- Divest!: The Climate Movement on Tour – Steve Liptay
Recently, Falvey co-sponsored a townhall regarding the effects of climate change and what Villanovans can do to confront the issue. The main topic of the townhall was divestment, which is essentially the opposite of an investment. Rather than continuing to invest money in companies that contribute to climate change, this townhall urged Villanova to shift investments away from oil companies as a means of curbing climate change. If you believe this is the course of action that should be taken, add your name to this petition!
Ethan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.