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When the polar vortex is weak, or an SSW event occurs, then the jet stream will tend to weakened, move further south, and become' wavier,' the effect of these changes is for warmer than normal air to move into the Arctic Amplification, colder weather to enter North America and Europe/Asia, and more extreme weather and storms overall in the middle latitudes( e.g., snowstorms).
In the stratosphere, the polar vortex typically recovers in strength within a couple of weeks of the peak of the event, however, in the troposphere, the effects of the SSW event( e.g., a further south jet stream, cold and stormy weather) can last for up to 8 weeks. So, these events, which can evolve quickly, can have lasting impacts on the winter weather patterns in the troposphere.
We know from observations that the Arctic Amplification region is warming at a much faster rate than other parts of the globe( we call Arctic Amplification), the impact of Arctic Amplification is twofold. First, since Arctic Amplification is getting much warmer, when cold air outbreaks occur in North America and Europe/Asia, they aren't as cold as they were decades ago. The second effect( though currently debated in the science community) is that a warmer Arctic Amplification is also making the stratospheric polar vortex weaker on the average.
Some winters, it remains fairly unperturbed. Other winters( like this one), it can be severely disrupted/weakened, understanding what is happening with the polar vortex is one of several features in our climate that helps meteorologists understand what to expect for winter weather over the next 2-6 weeks.
When the stratospheric polar vortex is strong, the jet stream tends to move further north, which keeps the cold air in the Arctic Amplification and allows relatively milder conditions across much of the United States and Eurasia.
We actually had two events in the recent past that shows this contrast. There was a major SSW event in February 2018 and one in January 2019, and the after effects of each were very different.
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