What in the Winter just Happened?

If you're reading this, you, like me, made it! This past week was one of the coldest on records for the upper half of the United States. It makes sense that this is shocking and perhaps even confusing considering the fact that this weekend we could get up to almost 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Lots of heard what the name of what happened being tossed around, but weren't sure what it meant. So what is the Polar Vortex?

The Polar Vortex happens every winter, however, most years it stays above the Arctic. On rare occasions, the Arctic warms just enough that the vortex goes South for the winter, or at least a portion of the winter, and visits us—the lucky population. This vortex is a large area in the upper hemisphere that's chock-full of insanely cold winds.

This may lead us to the question of why, which is entirely fair. While I am in no way a weather expert, I think there's a common thought going around: Climate Change. Climate Change is widely debated, it was originally called Global Warming but the title ended up bringing about debate and denial because not everywhere felt warmer, so Climate Change seemed to be a more all-inclusive title. I've heard arguments from either side of belief. Once in history class I listened to a substitute teacher speak for 30 minutes about how Climate Change "wasn't real" and on the other hand, that same year, I listened to an entire research-based speech explaining the exact opposite. We all have different beliefs and see things in different ways so it may be difficult for us to all get on the same certain note, but I think Climate Change is an important thing to consider.

Experts are still debating about how much influence Climate Change may have had on this Polar Vortex, but regardless, what we do know, is that it was cold—too cold to even hang out outside. So what about those of us who don't have a choice but to be outside? Faribault does have shelters and halfway houses, and even a soup kitchen, but that doesn't mean everyone got in safely. Hospitals throughout the affected nation are treating patients for frostbite and many shelters opened their doors to homeless who needed a place to stay, but still, we saw reports of people being found frozen solid. So far there have been 21 people found dead due to the weather, and there's no way to know of people who still may not have been discovered. Considering those who may not have a warm place to stay or food to put on their tables especially during times of such extreme cold. Perhaps this week will inspire us to help our neighbors and share more compassion. Consider donating clothes and canned goods to local shelters and distributors or volunteering at the soup kitchen. Links to each of the places will be below. Remember to stay warm!