Nate Jones
July 11, 2014 01:40 PM

Ah, summer – the time when we can all relax, kick back and thank the heavens that the horrifying weather of last winter is but a fading memory. Goodbye, polar vortex!

Er, hello again, polar vortex!

As the Washington Post reports, “a deep pool of cold air from the Gulf of Alaska will plunge into the Great Lakes early this week and then ooze towards the East Coast.”

The result should be unseasonably cool weather across much of the United States. The massive snowstorms and stinging winds of January won’t make an appearance, but the resulting weather might feel more like early autumn than the middle of summer. In the Midwest, morning temperatures may get down to the 40s.

However, a number of weather experts are taking issue with the use of the term “polar vortex” in this context. It’s a catchy term, they say, but those words actually have a specific meaning beyond “unexpected cold snap.”

The polar vortex is a mass of cold arctic air that sometimes breaks off the poles and heads south, as happened this winter. Because it’s not truly coming from the arctic, this coming weather event, writes meteorologist Larry Cosgrove, “[fails] to meet the standard for calling an upper low a vortex.”

If all this is too technical for you, be thankful there’s another geographical phenomenon coming later this month that everyone’s in agreement on the correct name for: Sharknado, the sequel of which premieres on Syfy July 30.

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