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Hundreds Could Die If Polar Vortex Strikes The UK, Warn Scientists

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Hundreds could die in the UK and the NHS systems could come under further strain if the moving polar vortex pushes bitter cold air into Europe.

As confirmed last week, the polar vortex is apparently on the move because of sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) occurring at high altitudes above the North Pole. The vortex has the potential to plunge the UK into an extreme cold snap in the coming 2-6 weeks.  

Now experts have voiced their fears that if the Arctic air sweeps into the UK as a consequence of the polar vortex’s movement, it can lead to severe casualties across the nation. Referring to the statistics of 2018’s deadly Beast from the East, which was triggered by the similar weather phenomenon of stratospheric warming, scientists have warned that there could be, on average 620 additional deaths due to the freezing weather.

Scientists, especially those at the University of Reading, also fear that the National Health Service could come under further stress if the temperature drops to subzero due to the polar vortex. The NHS in the UK is already under a lot of pressure due to a spike in the Covid-19 cases in the country and the emergence of a new variant. So if a cold spell occurs, the burden on the health systems will increase significantly due to increased weather-related accidents and cases of hypothermia.

“An increased risk of extremely cold weather poses a threat to health and infrastructure,” said Simon Lee, an atmospheric science and weather forecasting researcher at the University of Reading. "A weakening of the jet stream often occurs after an SSW, meaning the UK is now more prone to outbreaks of colder weather from the north and east than it was before.”

The chilly winter weather, if it happens, will also slow down economic activity in the UK. Several of the bridges and highways in the country will be forced to close due to excess snow accumulation, and flights may be grounded due to agitations in the weather. Rapid transit in all major cities may also be curbed if the weather conditions are too intense.

The polar vortex is simply a low-pressure system that swirls cold air around the polar regions of the globe. But the system can sometimes move off the North Pole. In doing so, it releases cold air much farther south in regions such as North America and Europe. Scientists, currently, are closely watching monitoring the weather to determine, if, when are where the impacts will occur.

Source: The Mirror U.K.