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'Monstrous' winter vortex prediction goes viral on Facebook, NWS says it's unlikely

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service are always keeping an eye on developing systems, and can accurately predict up to a week out.

MonstrousWinterVortex.png
A viral Facebook post from a page called METEOROLOGISTS uses this graph to back their claim that a 'monstrous' polar vortex will settle over the Northern Plains as early as Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of METEOROLOGISTS on Facebook)

Are you prepared for temperatures in the low 20s and snow? Luckily, you may not have to be.

A viral Facebook post from a page called METEOROLOGISTS is predicting that a massive winter vortex is set to settle over the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska on Wednesday, plunging temperatures into the low 20s and bringing snow as far south as Kansas and Missouri.

The post has racked up nearly 2,500 shares on Facebook in just five days.

Peter Rogers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said the forecast will be cooler than the past week, but still calls for above-average temperatures.

“For the next seven days, we’re definitely going to be cooler than we have been, but closer to what we should be for the year for where we’re at,” Rogers said. “Average should be in the 60s for this time of year, and we’ve been flirting with 70s lately. The 6-10 day outlook has a good chance of above normal temperatures.”

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A polar vortex is a large mass of cold air, typically pooled over the polar region of the planet. In the wintertime, pressure systems can pull that air to the south, resulting in cold snaps in the Northern Plains.

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This animation shows the cold air of a polar vortex blowing south from central Canada into the U.S. Midwest in January 2019. Animation courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech AIRS Project

“The potential is certainly there for any given winter,” Peters said. “Once or twice (each winter) is probably a reasonable guess.”

Rogers said it’s unlikely — though not impossible — that October will produce any snow, let alone a polar vortex.

“The current 8- to 14 day outlook goes to October 27th, but chances for above normal temps would translate to lower chances of snow.”

Rogers said the best example of a wide-reaching polar vortex came in February, when a major polar vortex strangled power grids as far south as Texas .

South Dakota is known for its rapidly changing weather, however. Winter storm Wesley, which dumped upward of 30 inches of snow and ice in South Dakota in April 2019, came just days after the state saw temperatures in the 70s.

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Alex Young, with the Mitchell Parks, Recreation and Forestry department, clears the sidewalk in the 400 block of North Main Street on Thursday in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Alex Young, with the Mitchell Parks, Recreation and Forestry department, clears the sidewalk in the 400 block of North Main Street on Thursday in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

However, meteorologists at the National Weather Service are always keeping an eye on developing systems, and can accurately predict up to a week out, meteorologist Andrew Kalin told the Republic in September.

For now, the Climate Prediction Center forecasts above average temperatures for the remainder of October, with equal chances of above and below average temperatures in November and December.

A call to the phone number associated with the METEOROLOGISTS Facebook page went unanswered.

Related Topics: WINTER STORM
A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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