The Polar Vortex and Winter Weather

The connection between the polar vortex and winter weather has been linked. 

It is now apparent that there is a statistically critical link between the strength of the winter polar vortex, Siberian snow cover, and winter temperatures across a great part of North America as well as Europe and northern Asia.

By using a snow cover as a forecaster of the power of the winter polar vortex, this relationship is used to precisely predict winter temperatures. Other seasonal forecasts overlook the snow-polar vortex relationship and tend to focus just on ENSO to forecast large scale temperature patterns.

How the Polar Vortex Affects Regional Temperatures

The polar vortex is a quick-flowing stream of air that circles the North Pole in the winter months in the upper atmosphere, referred to as the stratosphere. Typically, when the polar vortex is strong, temperatures are mild in the mid-latitudes over the Eastern US and Northern Eurasia. When the vortex is weak, temperatures tend to be cold in the Eastern US as well as northern Asia and Europe.

Strong Polar Vortex

Strong is the usual state of the polar vortex. When the polar vortex is strong, this produces strong low pressure in the Arctic region. Since the pressure differs between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, air flows into low pressure and this confines the cold air to high latitudes close to the Arctic. 

Therefore, it is frequently mild across Europe, the Eastern US, and East Asia during wintertime when the polar vortex is strong. During strong polar vortex, the airflow is rapid and in a direction from west to east.

Weak Polar Vortex

When the polar vortex is weak, the airflow is fainter and travels north and south instead of west to east. This permits a redistribution of air masses where cold air from the Arctic goes into the mid-latitudes and warm air from the subtropics is transported into the Arctic. This combining of air masses also favors more snow and storms in the mid-latitudes.

Health Advantages of Cold Weather (Part II)

Better sleep is one of the advantages of cold weather.

Lower Risk of Diseases

Sure, you may be more susceptible to catching a cold, but you’re in the clear for many viruses and diseases that are more widespread in warmer temps. Avoiding these dangerous diseases is one of the advantages of cold weather.  That’s because pesky mosquitoes hibernate during winter, which explains a decrease of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus, Zika, dengue fever, and malaria during the wintertime.

Better Sleep 

Your body’s core temp drops when you’re trying to sleep. This process can take over two hours in the heat of summer, though is way faster in winter. Also, one of the pluses of shorter days is darker mornings, so you can naturally sleep in later, no blackout curtains needed. Better sleep is always a plus and one of the major advantages of cold weather. 

Fight Infections

You might get more colds during the wintertime, but you are really better primed to kick your immune system into gear and fight the infection more efficiently. Research has shown that the human immune system can be activated when exposed to the cold. This improves someone’s ability to fight infections.

Rejuvenate Skin

Moderately cold temperatures can be good for the skin’s health since it constrains blood vessels in the skin. This makes the vessels less predisposed to swelling and redness due to a reduction in blood flow. Plus, you tend to develop less oil and sebum in the winter, so you might have fewer breakouts. 

Heart Healthy

Cold weather can do your heart some good when you’re bracing it for your outdoor winter workouts. Cold weather makes working out a challenging and fun activity. The heart will need to pump more oxygenated blood to not only compensate for the activity but also to make sure that the body keeps a warm enough temperature to remain within balance and to avoid any dangers from a drop in temperature. Moreover, exercising in the wintertime makes the heart muscles stronger. Though, if you have heart disease, you must be cautious when exercising outdoors in the cold weather.

 

The Wild Weather of the United States

 

While every country has its extreme patterns, few can compete with the United States. As a nation with wild weather seemingly every month, it’s an intense place to live.

Some of these storms can be explained by the size and location of the USA. There is no denying that every region has its troubling seasons.

Below are some of the wild weather you can expect to see in the United States. If you know of any others, please leave us a comment to research.

Thunderstorms: Nature’s Fury

Thunderstorms are such frequent weather events that many people shrug them off. And yet, every second that ticks by, 100 bolts strike somewhere on the planet.

Despite how frequent they are, they create millions in property damage each year. Some areas, like Florida, see more strikes than some countries, let alone other states.

In addition to electrocution fears, the bigger threat is that fires can be ignited. Each bolt is roughly five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Hurricanes: Wind, Rain, and Waves

For those living in Asian nations, hurricanes are called typhoons. A swirling mass of winds, thunderclouds, and heavy waves creates the perfect storm.

Because these wild weather patterns hit hard and fast, people lose their utilities quickly. Unfortunately, this situation creates many opportunities for looters during each storm.

Local law enforcement is well aware of the trend. Looting means searching for “bail bonds near me” before too long.

Tornadoes: Swirling Wind Funnels

Tornadoes start as a stiff breeze before turning into a hungry funnel of death. While that may sound dramatic, it’s uncomfortably close to reality.

These wild weather events plague much of the center of the country, which is also nicknamed Tornado Alley. Tornadoes also fall into six categories from mildest (F0) to most extreme (F5).

Lighter storms generate wind speeds of 40 MPH, while devastating F5’s can blow at 300 MPH. When these winds strike a building, there isn’t much left behind.

Drought: Intense Heat and Dryness

Droughts prove to us that there is such a thing as too many sunshiny days. A drought can form from four primary sources, making them tricky to predict.

These wild weather events can occur from not enough rain to dwindling water supplies. These patterns often affect agricultural industries, as well as communities depending on local economies.

Because many factors are outside of human control, they can last a long time. It could be years that an area sits in a drought status before ever seeing improvement.

Blizzards: Frigid Walls of Ice

While a snow day feels nice, a blizzard does not. As the coldest wild weather event on the list, it’s also a deadly one.

Blankets of white above and below mean people can quickly get disoriented and exhausted. In addition to snow and ice, there are also strong winds to watch.

The northern regions typically suffer the most blizzards during the winter months. Despite how common they are, they can devastate communities each year.

Health Advantages of Cold Weather (Part I)

There are many health advantages of cold weather.

There’s no doubt about it, wintertime can be tough on our wellbeing and bodies. But all isn’t bad. Read on to learn about some of the health advantages of cold weather.

Boosts your Brain

One of the health advantages of cold weather is that it can help folks think clearly. Research shows that folks complete tasks better when the room temperature is at a cooler setting than a warmer one. Moreover, research shows that people are less prone to tackle cognitive issues in the summer, as opposed to winter. This is because the summer uses more glucose that’s needed for mental processes. So, getting outdoors for a walk to a local coffee store in the winter can give you your next big idea for a work project.

Increases Brown Fat

Most fat in human beings looks white in color. Brown fat is the mitochondria-packed fat cells that burn energy and makes heat in the body. There was a time it was believed that just infants possess brown fat. However, studies have shown that adults have some brown fat. Folks with lower body mass index (BMI) usually have a higher content of brown fat. Research has shown that when males are exposed to colder temps, they have a raise in brown fat. Not to mention a corresponding boost in metabolism.

Improves Allergies

If you have outdoor allergies, there is good news. Pollen counts are practically nonexistent in snowy, cold weather. Though, if you have indoor allergies, you’re not in the clear. Dust mite and mold allergies can be worse during the winter, particularly if you’re spending more time indoors.

Lower Inflammation

Do you understand how ice packs are used to reduce pain and swelling after an injury? Well, you may notice your joints feeling less puffy and swollen in the winter. The cold air works like a natural ice pack to reduce inflammation.

Health Benefits of Walking in the Rain (Part II)

There are numerous benefits of walking in the rain.

You Are Boosting Your Immune System

One of the benefits of walking in the rain is boosting your ability to stay healthy. By exposing yourself to various temperatures and life outside of the home, you are acquiring a stronger immune system for the future. Often, folks usually catch colds in the winter since they keep themselves all cooped up. Don’t let the rain keep you from taking pleasure in the outdoors.

The Sound of Rain

Also, the sound of rain is a stress reliever. Sounds have a real deep effect on your emotional state. It is one of the senses that frequently gets overlooked. Perhaps leaving the earbuds or headphones at home this time and just listening to the rain will be the motivation you need to put you in a lively mindful state. 

Walks in the rain aid you in seeing things from a different perspective. Regardless if it’s the gloomy mood, darker lighting, or the reflection of streetlights in puddles, almost everything looks different on rainy days. This can help some folks see their issues, challenges, and other daily aspects in a different light. 

Be a Rebel

Sometimes you just need to bend the rules. Walking in the rain is a healthy and safe way to do so. Just make sure to wear correct temperature regulating gear and completely dry off once you are home so you don’t get sick.

Quick Tips for Walking in The Rain

It’s always thrilling to get caught in the rain suddenly. Though, your rain walks will be more comfortable if you plan ahead of time. Here are some tips to help you get the most benefits from walking in the rain:

  • Put on a jacket with a hood or grab an umbrella to keep your head from getting wet.
  • Wear waterproof footwear to avoid wet feet.
  • Sport a rain jacket and rain pants if you’d like to stroll in the rain but don’t want to get wet.
  • Make sure to completely dry off after your rain adventure and perhaps even treat yourself to a very relaxing, warming foot soak.

Health Benefits of Walking in the Rain (Part I)

Break-in your rain boots and go for a walk in the rain.

Walking in the rain might seem bizarre, but there are numerous reasons for taking a walk during a rain shower. It will alter the way you view a walk on a misty day.

Several singers, like The Ronettes, have sung about rain walking and for good reason: Walking on a rainy day has a lot of health advantages that soothe the soul, mind, and body. If you believe taking a walk in the rain sounds like an irrational idea, then read these believable reasons why walking in the rain is really healthy and something you must try on the next rainy day. 

Reasons Why You Should Take A Walk in The Rain

There are usually fewer people. Most folks run for cover when it begins to rain, meaning it’s only the daring souls who continue walking during a rainstorm. If you desire quiet and peace during your walks, rainy days are the best. 

You’re left alone with your thoughts and can destress way easier and quicker than when there are lots of other folks out taking strolls. Another big plus is that the sidewalks are barer so you don’t have to speedwalk.

The air is scientifically proven to be fresher and cleaner. A recent study showed that the air is really cleaner during and after heavy rain. The reason is that as rain falls through the atmosphere, it has the ability to attract lots of particles of pollutants like soot, dander, sulfates, and bacteria before landing on the ground. Proof that exhilarating breaths of rainy air truly are better.

You burn more calories walking in the rain. Just like building more muscle, you will also burn more calories walking in the rain since you have to use more energy than if you were on a non-slip surface. Burning more calories will decrease body fat.

Can the Weather Affect Your Dog’s Behavior (Part II)?

The weather can affect your dog’s behavior and mood just like it can yours.

Hot Weather

Extreme and stormy weather isn’t all that can affect your dog’s behavior. Hot days can affect your furry companion’s attitude. For instance, some dogs eat less and get less active when it’s really hot. They prefer to lie down on cool tile or close to a source of airflow. Some dogs, just like humans, get grumpy and unwilling to go for walks or to do any exercise when the temp is high.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

At times called the “Winter Blues,” Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in the wintertime when sunshine is infrequent, and daytime light levels are low. In humans, SAD symptoms may be depression, listlessness, lack of interest in social activities, and tiredness. But, do dogs suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? Some studies support the idea that they do. 

The PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) discovered that over 40% of dog parents see a significant change in their pet’s moods during dark winter months. Also, the dogs were said to have slept longer and their general activity levels were lower than in warmer months. Researchers believe that the reason for these changes lies in the effect that light has on melatonin, a hormone that aids in regulating sleep cycles. 

Melatonin has several effects and the major ones include helping a person to relax, becoming sleepy, and lethargic. The pineal gland makes and secretes melatonin in darkness. It halts when light hits the retina. During the wintertime, more melatonin is made which possibly causes the classic SAD symptoms in both dogs and humans.

Relocating to a New Climate and Your Dog’s Behavior

Seasons change slowly, giving your furry friend time to adjust. Relocating to a whole new climate, though, can create unexpected changes in your dog’s behavior. Based on your dog’s breed, you might notice that he gets more or less active. Some dogs even show signs of anger if the weather makes them too uncomfortable.

 

Can the Weather Affect Your Dog’s Behavior (Part I)?

There are several aspects of the weather that contribute to the change in your dog’s behavior.

Thunder, wind, heat, gray skies are all components of weather that affect your dog’s behavior and mood. Though, like humans, dogs can possess their own distinct quirks when it comes to responding to weather. Some dogs are afraid of thunder, while others pay no attention to it. Where does your dog fit in? 

Some dogs can deal with the dark winter months while others can be unenergized and depressed. The same is true of other weather phenomena. It depends on the doggie and how sensitive he or she is.

Thunder and Lighting

If you have a dog who’s afraid of thunder, you already know how weather can affect a dog’s behavior. Signs of phobia are barking, panting, whimpering, and hiding. According to a recent study, some dogs experience a swift increase of cortisol, the stress hormone, during thunderstorms. 

In fact, when researchers tested the saliva of thunder-phobic dogs, they discovered their production of cortisol to be over 200% higher than that of dogs who aren’t scared of thunder. According to the same researchers, 15% to 30% of dogs are highly scared of thunder.

If you observe your doggie sniffing the air as a storm approaches, he may be watching incoming weather change. As the pressure in the air reduces, the way odors move changes. Your dog might notice these changes even if you don’t.

Sensing Bad Weather

Dogs are more perceptive to changes in the weather than humans. They feel changes in the static electric field that happen in the air, particularly as a strong storm approach. That’s why dogs may be able to tell that a big storm or tornado is coming. Some dogs even get into a bathtub when they sense a change in air static. Though professionals are not sure why dogs do it, it could be a hunt for safety or comfort.