Thursday, 9 January 2014

Winter Nightmare: Polar Vortex and Its Tormenting Effects

Was it your lifetime dream to play under the falling snow? But, are you aware that the extreme cold the winter brings can lead to death and amputation of fingers and toes? Some people always wanted to visit the northern part of America to experience their Winter Wonderland dream. But these past few days, your dreamland has been suffering from extreme snowfall and extreme drop in temperature due to the polar vortex. Let us get to know more about the phenomenon and effects of Polar Vortex  on the Americans.

Figure 1. According to photo (a) is “the Chicago skyline is seen behind a large chunk of ice near North Avenue Beach as cold temperatures remain with wind chills nearing minus 30F on Tuesday”. Extreme cold can bring frostbite that could further lead to amputation of toes and other parts of the body, as seen in photo (b) from

According to NASA, “polar vortex is a whirling and persistent large area of low pressure, found typically over both North and South poles.” In layman’s term, we can visualize it as a typhoon that brings in not rain but large amount of snowfall. Northern America has experienced -12F (-24C) wherein the real feel is actually colder than that because of the presence of gust cool winds. This unusual global cooling is actually an effect of the global warming.

Have you ever wondered how this extreme cold and snowfall affects the people experiencing it? Here are some of them:

  1. People need to wear several layers of baggy and thick clothing.
  2. People opt to stay indoors where they have electric heater, causing a huge increase in their electric consumption.
  3. People need to be more cautious since the snow is slippery. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking or driving, caution is a must.
  4. Some people might suffer from frostbite which can cause amputation of the affected body parts.
  5. Some people might suffer from hypothermia which may cause death.

How much do you love your toes and fingers? If going on an extremely cold place, you better protect them because frostbite can lead to amputation of our body parts. Frostbite is a medical condition wherein certain body parts exposed to extreme cold for long hours experienced lack in blood. This leads to freezing of skin and tissues which can eventually lead to death of the tissues that causes amputation of the affected body parts.

There have been news in northern America amounting to few death caused by hypothermia - the opposite of heat stroke. “Hypothermia is a medical condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as 35.0 °C (95.0 °F).” ( Common causes are long exposure to cold temperature, frequently with alcohol involvement, improper clothing and homelessness during winter season.

If it has been your dream to live in your Winter Wonderland, you should consider certain things before finally migrating. But not everything in winter is downbeat, snowboarding and making your own snowman is certainly fun. What you need to know is just the balance between the pros and cons of living in a country with winter season.

You may also want to take a look at this young scientist who experimented if he’s urine would become a yellow snow.

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