As If We Weren’t Already Dealing With Enough, the Polar Vortex Is Back

Parts of the country could see snow and temperatures 20 degrees below average this weekend.

Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Zuma

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First came the pandemic. Then, the giant murder hornets. Now, a freak May snowstorm is set to blanket the Northeast, adding a new degree of absurdity to a year that can’t seem to get any weirder.

The polar vortex will send temperatures plummeting about 20 degrees below average in many parts of the Northeast and the Midwest on Friday, potentially blanketing northern New England with snow. Following a stretch of sunny spring weather, 75 million people could face temperatures below freezing on Saturday morning—an additional impetus to just stay home.

But the dipping temperatures shouldn’t be confused for a sign that nature is healing. Scientists theorize that warming Arctic temperatures could disturb atmospheric circulation patterns, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events across the Northern Hemisphere. These events aren’t limited to cold snaps; for example, abnormally hot, dry conditions have recently sent wildfires raging across the Florida Panhandle. Global temperatures are still showing a rising trend, and 2020 is on track to be one of the hottest years on record.

Still, for many Americans, it’s time to gear up for a Mother’s Day that could feel as cold as Christmas.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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