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Embracing the vortex


By now you know the Midwest has been in the grip of a polar vortex, a perturbation of the jet stream that’s pinched off a huge bubble or arctic air, and sent it rolling through the Midwest as far south as Texas.

“This is the coldest windchill I’ve ever reported in on The Weather Channel,” said meteorologist Mike Seidel.

What’s going on in the video? NWS Meteorologist Ted Buehner answers:

(The hot water) is essentially creating a cloud. Clouds are made of essentially a visible mass of condensed water vapor. The hot water evaporates and turns into condensed water vapor very quickly, creating the cloud.

The warnings are frightening – Prof. Abdi Samatar told the BBC, “If you stand outside for longer than 5 minutes with any part of your body exposed – it could freeze. Including your eyeballs.”

But being Americans, we do not let the media tell us what to be afraid of. We want to see how cold it is for ourselves. And so, just as during a heat wave, people rush outside to fry an egg on the sidewalk, during this polar vortex, you turn water into mist.

Yes – we boil a pot of water, run outside, and throw it into the air so it turns into ice crystals, and post a video.

Go to any neighborhood in the Midwest and at any moment, you’re liable to see somebody run outside and throw a pot of boiling water into the air and run back in.

It turns into ice crystals every time. Or at least, almost every time.

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