Winter at North Haven Resort

What Polar Vortex? It’s a Normal Winter in Northern Manitoba

Most of North America is dealing with record cold and snow this February due to a polar vortex.  At North Haven Resort this winter weather is pretty much the same as it normally is each winter.  With an average high temperature of 8 (F) and low temperature of -17 (F), Northern Manitoba is used to cold weather.

What is a Polar Vortex?

A polar vortex is bringing temperatures in the southern U.S. to well below zero (F). The cities of Houston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana are experiencing ice, heavy snow and subzero wind chills. A polar vortex is a mass of cold air that normally resides in the area of the north and south poles.  Under certain conditions, this air mass can break loose and travel as far south as the upper Midwest in the United States.  The cold air mass then radiate its subzero temperatures down as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. When this happens there can actually be warmer temperatures in the Arctic than in cities, such as Minneapolis, Minnesota or Chicago, Illinois.

How Long Does it Last?

There is no set schedule for when a polar vortex will leave the Arctic. This movement often has a big impact the weather in southern Canada and United States.  Typically, mid to late winter tends to be when this polar air is least stable. This is often when it can dip south creating frigid temperatures for around a week or up to a month.

Does it Happen Every Year?

In short, no.  A polar vortex does not typically happen every winter.   It’s a somewhat random weather event.  The term wasn’t popularized until around 2014 when it occurred in the U.S. twice, once in January and once in February.  Other recent years that included a polar vortex type weather pattern were 1977, 1982, 1985, 1989, 2014 and 2019.

Can it Occur in the Summer?

While a polar vortex can occur in the summer, it isn’t very noticeable.  This is because there isn’t a big temperature difference between the arctic air mass and the air over North America. These temperature shifts are strongest when there is a large temperature difference between the arctic air and the air around the equator. This is typically in the winter months.

How to Prevent the Next One?

A polar vortex isn’t preventable.  Lucky for those who live in warmer climates, it is just a short blast of ultra cold air.  This sudden drop in temperature typically won’t last more than a few weeks.  For people who live in the northern reaches of North America, they are accustomed to dealing with the harshness of an arctic winter. In areas such as on Utik Lake where North Haven Resort is located, the buildings, equipment and even the animals are all built for arctic survival!

North Haven main lodge in winter in winter