polar vortex
Polar vortex is not going to bring snow misery to UK in coming weeks. Reuters

Reports of an impending polar vortex coming to both the UK and US have made headlines this week.

In one report, it was suggested the UK is facing three months of blizzards and Arctic gales, with "paralysing" heavy snow expected over the next few weeks.

It said a "freak polar vortex" will be combined with low pressure and above-average rainfall to create a "perfect storm of misery".

However, crippling snow is not expected in the near future. IBTimes UK asked a Met Office spokesperson to clarify these reports and if we are expecting to see 6ft of snow in the coming days and weeks: "No. there's nothing like that on the charts at the moment at all."

But what is a polar vortex and why would it be coming for us?

"It depends on your definition of a polar vortex," the spokesperson said. "There is currently a thing that the Americans call a polar vortex across the states and its bringing them cold weather. But it's not going to affect our weather or that sort of weather isn't going to come over to us."

Our weather is currently dependent on what is happening in the Atlantic. At present, there is a big low pressure system over the Atlantic and that is what is driving the weather in the UK. There are flood alerts in place and weather warnings have been issued over heavy rain and gales over the coming days.

January Niagara
Niagara froze earlier this year as the 'polar vortex' brought record low temperatures to much of North America. Reuters

The Met Office also recently published its three month winter outlook, which said we can expect a stormy start to the period and cold January. However, it also warned the outlook should not be taken as a forecast

A post on its News Blog explained: "As we've discussed previously, the outlook is not like a normal weather forecast. It's an experimental and complex outlook based on probabilities which is designed specifically for those who plan ahead for various contingencies based on possible likelihoods."

It said the unsettled conditions predicted for the next few weeks are "fairly normal" for the time of year i.e. winter.

But coming back to the polar vortex and the impending doom it will bring, the spokesperson explained: "The polar vortex it seems to have an awful lot of reiterations. It is there all the time in the winter. It's like an area of low pressure that sits up in the stratosphere, whereas our weather is in the troposphere – below the stratosphere. That's what most meteorologists would know as the polar vortex - in that it lives in the stratosphere.

"The use of it in America appears to relate more to low pressure systems that are closer to the surface. So it's not quite the way we would be referring to it. But they have had an outbreak of cold air across the states and in the last few days they've had very low temperatures, which is all fairly normal for this time of year, as the Northern Hemisphere cools down."