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The Polar Vortex is coming for us, says CityNews meteorologist Adam Stiles

File photo of a winter wonderland in Calgary. (PHOTO: Jessika Guse, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY – This year has been a fairly easy year on us for far in the weather department (can’t say the same for the rest of news cycle).

It was been warmer than average across most of the country since the beginning of winter but as we all suspect in the back of our minds that it can’t last forever and it is looking like it won’t.

Enter the Polar Vortex.

That’s right. It is set to return to parts of Canada toward the end of this month and bring some big changes, especially to the west and the prairies.

The map below shows just how warm it has been compared to average temperatures since January first. You guessed it the orange, red, brown, and even white areas show just have immensely warm it has been and how large of an area that warmth spans.

In Calgary, the breakdown here since meteorological winter started, shows just how much warmer it has been compared to the average mean temperatures.

And not only that–we’ve seen a virtually-snow-free January.

So, when does the script flip and the cold air come? Soon.

The Polar Vortex typically resides over the poles, but because of stratospheric warming, a period that we have been going through lately, this has relaxed the typically tight upper air circulation that keeps it in place.

In short: the Polar Vortex is coming for us.

When that circulation around it eases off, we start to see chunks of that bitterly cold air sinking further south, and North America is a prime candidate to receive that air.

This is also supported and aided by the pattern starting to shift into a more classic La Nina, which has been developing in the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean.

What it basically means is that the jet stream is going to move south in the west, allowing this cold arctic to spill down, even to the coast.

This will also bring a more active pattern to the Great Lakes and southern Quebec and open up the door for some decent lake effect snow on the relatively ice-free Great Lakes.

Does this mean the rest of winter is going to be miserable? No

Will it be record cold? Not even.

Will it last all of February? Not likely either.

So what then?

We are just going to be getting a taste of good ol’ fashioned winter weather that we are used to seeing for a few weeks out of the season. So, let this serve as that heads up: winter is coming.

We all knew it would show up at some point, but we can expect to see it by the end of the month.