Letter: Learning hard way about polar vortex

To the Editor:

I learned a new term recently: Polar vortex.  

Am I the only person who didn’t know what that meant? A search of the dictionary didn’t help, as it is not listed that way. We all know what polar means, as in the bear. A vortex is sort of like a whirlwind. I don’t think it means a whirling polar bear though.

So I guess that would mean it’s some Arctic air whirling around.

You could check the Internet for more detailed information on the subject.

The newspaper weather page said, “It is strongest in winter when the temperature differences between the equator and the pole are the greatest.”

Knowing the reason, somehow, does not make us feel any warmer.

I can’t wait to find out what new term we will learn when we have an extreme heat wave in the coming summer months.

When I was growing up, we did not hear anything about the wind chill factor in winter or the dew point in the summer.

During winter, my father looked at the thermometer mounted on our back porch on the north side of our house and told us to bundle up.  “It’s cold out there.” 

So we’d put on as much clothing as we could and covered our faces (except our eyes) with our scarves and trudged northwest to the one-room school house we attended for eight years. As we walked, we’d say a silent prayer that the teacher had not overslept and there would be a cozy fire in the furnace in the basement.

There was one heat register right in front of his desk and as many of us that could fit on it would huddle there before school began, trying desperately to thaw our numbed extremities.  

My heart always goes out to those who have to work outdoors no matter the weather.  Also the homeless.

Most likely there were cold-related deaths in the old days, too, just as today. But we did not hear about them because we did not have 24 hours of weather updates on our radios. Perhaps there weren’t so many events calling us out of our homes, either, and we stayed home when Old Man Winter dealt us those cruel blows.

Take heart.  In less than two months we’ll be fiddling with our clocks again when daylight saving time begins.  And after that – spring! 

Mil Misic

DeKalb