Friday, February 3

Winter has ceased to exist as we knew it. This weekend’s “nortada” is another test

Challenging all forecasts, April will enter Spain with a wave of winter cold that will plunge thermometers to temperatures that are inappropriate for this time of year. Just as we call it “intense nortada”, “Scandinavian super wave” or “the arctic on your doorstep”: the result is that it will be cold. A lot. And, the worst thing is that we better get used to it.

Because, as soon as we review the last few years, we discover that the climatic balance of the northern hemisphere has long since gone to waste and it will be more and more normal to be at 20ºC at the end of January and run into weekends poles in spring. We haven’t gotten rid of the haze and winter is back.

The polar vortex has broken. The polar vortex is a large area of ​​low pressure and cold air that rises around the polar regions of the Earth. It is called a vortex because, by rotating in a very specific way, the atmospheric structure contains the cold air near the poles. In other words, it is a kind of enormous polar cold store.

Sometimes the vortex breaks and this bilocation can cause serious problems because, on the one hand, it means that a huge mass of icy air begins to move “freely” and can fully reach us. In any case, the existence of two vortices generates an atmospheric vaudeville that conditions “the formation, trajectory and movement of cold air zones and storms”. Well, the vortex it just broke.

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Judah Cohen

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And what happens now? Above Greenland, there is a huge mass of air (the one that has “strangled”) the vortex and that pushes the cold air to drop south and approach the tropic of cancer where it meets the current fully with the jet stream. In other words, the Canary Islands will have much stronger showers and storms than usual.

And in the rest of the peninsula, we will come face to face with a “very intense nortada”; that is to say, with a winter shake in April that, especially during the weekend, will leave us with very low temperatures, frosts, storms and snowfalls at low levels of the north of the peninsula.

time is going crazy. The first thing we have to keep in mind is that none of this is new. They are phenomena that have been known for a long time and are not, technically, anything unusual. Cold waves like those of 1977, 1982 or 1989 are relaunched with this. Also those of 2014, 2019 or 2020. What is certain is that there are more than well-founded reasons to think that many of these phenomena are becoming more intense and recurrent.

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to more. It is not something that should surprise us. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has been denouncing for years that “climate-related disasters” have increased since the 1970s. Specifically, they have multiplied by five over the last five decades. “The number of extreme weather, climate and hydrological events is increasing, and these events will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change,” said Petterie Taalas, WMO Secretary-General.

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The end of winter as we know it? The main consequence of all this is that the climatic balance to which we were accustomed has been progressively weakening for years. This means that, although in events such as the rupture of the vortex that have nothing to do with climate change, the effects are stronger, faster and more extreme.

As we said at the beginning of this article, it will be more and more normal to be at 20ºC at the end of January and run into polar weekends in spring. Fortunately, we are learning to cope better (and there are fewer and fewer deaths associated with these events). They are the consequences of living “interesting times” (at the climatological level).

Image | Luis Bazán

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