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Posted by Paul Cook on January 20, 2015
Beware! The Polar Vortex is coming! It sounds like utter doom is ahead, but many would suggest otherwise. As a matter of fact, Lake Superior State University, has deemed the term overly used, misused, and generally useless, and elected to banish it from the “Queens’s English.” Wow, so what is the problem with this word?
The term polar vortex gained popularity in January 2014 as the country plunged into one of the most intense winters in two decades. A science writer, Andrew Freeman, used the term in an article to explain the cause of the freezing temperatures saying, “The polar vortex is an area of cold low pressure that typically circulates around the Arctic during the winter, spreading tentacles of cold southward into Europe, Asia, and North America at times.” Although it has been a well-known term among meteorologists, it didn’t become public lingo until it hit social media. The word seemed to perfectly describe the extreme winter conditions felt by so many across the country. Soon, it became a buzzword beyond social circles as it found it’s way onto TV forecasts and other media!
In the past, this long cold spell was referred to as “winter.” Within the winter season, we experience varying stretches of cold, freezing, and below freezing temperatures. People often enjoy putting their own spin on lingo, but with the help of social media, the term “polar vortex” became a sensational word for “winter,” and maybe a bit over-sensational.
So, is banishing the word appropriate? That is debatable. To be certain, winter is not always due to a polar vortex, and it is not a forecast of impending doom, as it may sound. It is merely, a very cold winter. Is there a better answer? Put on warm clothes, and stay near a heater!
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