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NASA depicts polar vortex in breathtaking video

Image: NASA

Image: NASA

Digital writers

Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 2:15 PM -

This winter has been one we won’t soon forget. It brought everything from frost quakes to ice storms to downright nasty snow storms. Some would call it your 'classic Canadian winter' but, for many, the cold snap that kicked off the new year could only be described in two words: Polar Vortex

That term alone is enough to send shivers up your spine, and just when you were starting to forget about that epic cold snap, NASA brings us something new to quiver about.

Here’s Eric Fetzer, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in the most visually compelling explanation of the polar vortex seen to date:

SEE ALSO: What is a 'Polar Vortex'?

Now believe it or not, the term “polar vortex” has been used in scientific papers since the 1940’s. 

If you recall two winters ago when winter was absent from the majority of North America, this was partially (but not completely) due to the fact that the polar vortex in the North Pole region was “stuck” up there so the colder air was bottled up and not drifting into southern latitudes. 

Here's a brilliant explanation by Weather Network meteorologist Doug Gillham about what the polar vortex is and why it was so cold late December early January. 

Part of the reason we were so cold was due to cross-polar flow: cold air coming straight from Siberia. But why is Siberian air colder than Canadian Arctic air? Doug explains:

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