Arctic colds, blazing fires, and 50-foot waves?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

I hope the animals are okay.

Over the past month, there have been some interesting weather patterns all across the nation, and according to several experts, they’re going to continue until the foreseeable future.

For example, the Midwest experienced record-breaking frosty weather in an unusual polar vortex. The extreme cold was supposed to be over by now, but a fresh wave of arctic winds are keeping it in place for a bit longer. It’s not exactly another polar vortex, but it will sure feel like one.

“Another clipper will reinforce the cold air already in place, so any snow on the ground is expected to hang around,” said CNN meteorologist Indra Petersons. Scientists predict the weather will continue on for about another week.

While that area of the country freezes, the West Coast is experiencing record high temperatures for this time of the season. Instead of fresh rain bringing water to thirsty vegetation, hot air is drying plants right up. When there’s a long period of unusually low rainfall, it creates a water shortage called a drought. It also makes the landscape vulnerable to fire – just ask any firefighter from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection! The high temperatures, combined with winds, have sparked up around 150 fires so far, which is way higher than the average 25 or so that hit this time of year.

“In the winter when we see a fire… it typically will burn at a slow rate of spread. And take an engine to put it out,” said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlandt. “This season, it’s taking a much larger response and even some aircraft because the grass and the brush wants to burn.”

Seems like the western US can use some water from the 40-to 50-foot high waves assaulting Hawaii. While these gigantic swells seem perfect for surfers to shred on, experts from the National Weather Service in Honolulu warn citizens that the waves are life-threatening. As a result, the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau invitational had to be postponed. “The wave quality will be very poor because of the strong sideshore and onshore winds, which dramatically deteriorate conditions,” said Jodi Wilmott, an organizer of the event.

Fires in the west and freezes in the northeast… seems like discussing the weather isn’t just small talk anymore!

Featured image courtesy of Louish Pixel on Flickr.