El Niño and polar vortex will cause heavy winter storms in MCPS this year
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is expecting a lot of snow coming late January and early February due to special weather conditions that will combine cold air from a polar vortex with precipitation from El Niño.
El Niño is an irregularly occurring series of climate-related events that cause the Pacific Ocean to be warmer and more nutrient-poor. This leads to high amounts of water vapor in the air and more precipitation. Catherine Trouteaud, an AP Environmental Science teacher at Blair, has taught about El Niño in her science class. "El Niño is one of the reasons why we have had such a rainy fall and now into the winter. The funny thing is that we don't know that El Niño is happening until October," Trouteaud said.
According to Fox 5 , the polar vortex is the cold air that sits over the Atlantic. The piece of the vortex has broken off and is now traveling southward. This cold air will mix with the precipitation brought on by El Niño to create snowy weather. "This area will get these artic cold bursts from the vortex plus the El Niño, so the conditions are right for a high snowfall," Trouteaud said.
Alex Tsironis, the creator of MoCo Snow , a local hub for winter weather information, took a summer class at Montgomery College about meteorology. "I learned the basics of the weather in that class, so when it was time for me to start figuring out a few weather things myself, I used that along with looking at weather models and googling things," Tsironis said.
To make his predictions, Tsironis compiles information from various weather forecasts with his background knowledge to predict how the weather might affect school delays and closures. So far, he has miscalculated very few times. "I have been wrong about six times in 10 years," Tsironis said.
MoCo Snow has corroborated that El Niño and the polar vortex will bring a lot of snow. "Based on almost every prediction, it's supposed to be a very cold and stormy time for us," Tsironis said. Unfortunately, weather predictions are no guarantee, and it is possible that the blizzards could miss Montgomery County completely and veer in another direction.
As for what Blazers think, senior Maxine Surla is excited about the upcoming weather and what it could mean for school closures. "It is nice to know that in my senior year there will hopefully be a whole bunch of snow days," Surla said.
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