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A polar vortex centered over Maine, 1/21/85. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polarvortexjan211985.jpg">National Meteorological Center</a>, Camp Springs, MD
A polar vortex centered over Maine, 1/21/85. Photo: National Meteorological Center, Camp Springs, MD

Natural Selections: Polar vortex

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The meteorological term "polar vortex" has a dramatic and ominous sound--the title of a disaster movie, maybe. But it is a just pattern of winds that is with us all the time and played a big role in recent deep cold snaps. They occur when the southern edge of this weather system pushes farther south than usual. Martha Foley and Curt Stager take a little of the hype out of this winter's weather buzz-word.

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