WHAT IS POLAR VORTEX? And, Ask How We Can Help?

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by Tim Osmondson, Publisher of SCA Living Magazine

The Polar Vortex has broken down very early this winter season and experts are calling for colder, freezing temperatures throughout the winter months and through the first 2 to 3 months of the new year 2020. So, unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that this on and off again chilly air isn’t going away anytime real soon.


At Batteries + Bulbs – Both the St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids locations are locally owned, offering free battery testing and installation services throughout the year. But, especially during these brutally cold days we’re here to serve you. If your battery seems to be going dead and has lost the power of cold cranking amps to churn the motor on, come visit us before it’s too late. Why?

                1. Convenience – 17 steps from your car door to our front counter.
                2. Stay Warm – We will check your battery life and install a new battery, if needed, while you stay inside.
                3. Quality Service – Knowledgeable, Trained Staff to Ensure Battery is Installed Properly.
                4. Top Quality, Fresh Batteries – Very Limited Shelf Life and Outstanding Brand Name
                5. Nationwide Warranty on all Vehicle batteries from 2 to 5 Years accepted at all B+B locations



The wintry onslaught will be driven by the Northern Hemisphere’s polar vortex, the pocket of cold air sitting atop the North Pole. When temperatures rise in the Arctic, the polar jet stream — the torrent of westerly winds that hold the polar vortex in place — can weaken and dip into parts of North America.

A destabilized polar vortex typically splits over Canada and Russia and has the potential to move farther south. As the cold front bears down on northern Minnesota, our border cities, such as, International Falls quite possibly could come near or reach record lows during these leaky days of the vortex.

“What this does is allow the coldest Arctic Canadian air to move over the Great Lakes region, bringing an active storm track, bringing with it prolonged periods of well-below-average and subzero temperatures to the Midwest,” said Brian Kerschner, a spokesman for the Illinois State Climatologist Office. The researchers are saying it may get worse in the coming years.

Climate scientists are actively working to unravel how climate change will impact the polar vortex. There’s been evidence to suggest that climate change could increase the number of these events. One group of climate scientists found “robust relationships” between Arctic warming and jet-stream wavering. They’re saying “We know that climate change is going to make extreme weather events more erratic—in fact, we’re already seeing that happen. It’s indisputable.”


Transportation of all kinds can be quite challenging during these frigid cold snaps, according to the warnings from the weather service. At these kinds of extreme temperatures, car batteries can die (may freeze even), tires can deflate, brake and suspension parts break, seals and hoses crack. Plus, both concrete and tar roads breakdown and crack creating nasty pit holes making travel harsh on tires and suspension systems.

As temperatures drop, here are some common suggestions we would like to offer you to keep your car up and operating in colder weather:

              • Park your car in the garage. If you do not have a garage, at least try to park in an area protected from prevailing winds.
              • Keep the fuel tank at least half-full to avoid fuel-line freeze-up.
              • Check your battery strength. Faulty batteries cause more car-starting problems than any other factor. Your car’s battery loses its strength by 60 percent in extreme cold. If your battery is more than two years old, have it checked. Most batteries last three to five years. Remember, Batteries + Bulbs will check your battery life for free.
              • When starting a vehicle that has been outside, allow a short warm-up period before putting your vehicle in “Drive” to begin your trip. This allows fluids that have thickened because of the arctic temperatures to reach proper viscosity.
              • If wiper blades are frozen to the windshield, do not turn the wipers on to free the blades. This can damage the motor that operates the wiper blades. Instead, use the vehicle’s defrost setting. Also, raise blades away from the windshield when the vehicle will be parked for any length of time.
              • If door locks are frozen, heat the key with a hair dryer. Do not put water on frozen door locks.
              • Make sure the engine coolant provides antifreeze protection down to the lowest temperatures you are likely to encounter; -30oF/-34oC is a good guideline.
              • Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit, which should include the following: cellphone and charger, jumper cables, warm gear for all potential passengers — boots, hats, gloves — blankets, flares, flashlight and extra batteries, extra food and water for all potential passengers, general first aid kit, non-clumping kitty litter, ice scraper, snow brush and shovel, and windshield washer fluid. Remember, Batteries+Bulbs will have the batteries you will need for all types of flashlights to electronics driven by a battery source.



We hope this information is helpful and will play a part of preparing you to deal with extreme cold weather if you must travel the roads. We care for your safety and look forward to serving you down the road.

You can visit one of our two convenient, locally owned Batteries + Bulbs locations in the greater St. Cloud area. The store located in the City of St. Cloud is across from Tenvoorde Ford at 2710 2nd Street South and the Sauk Rapids store is located by the Holiday Stationstore and Burger King in the Mall next door at 27 North Benton Drive. Our team looks forward to serving you and helping you solve any battery need required, device repair, and LED bulbs you’re looking to buy for your home or business. Be Safe This Winter!

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