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What's the Polar Vortex?

The weather phenomenon is causing freezing temperatures and fears of frostbite in large parts of the central and southern U.S.

The polar vortex from an NOAA satellite
The polar vortex from an NOAA satellite
Normally the polar vortex is a mass of cold air rotating over the Arctic, but a high pressure system over Greenland has pushed the freezing air down into the central and eastern part of the United States. 

This picture from an NOAA satellite shows the polar vortex as a gauzy smudge pushing across the eastern half of the country. 

Temperatures have dropped by 50 degrees in New York City. 

Schools in places like Minnetonka, MN (high of 1 degree expected for Tuesday) have closed because of the bitter cold. 

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