You do not have to live in the Middle West of the US that you've heard of a polar whirlwind but if you do not know you've felt its effects. Cold temperatures are plagued by many states thanks to the mass of Arctic air that is far more far south than it does, and NASA has realized that it has used one of its trusted satellites.
Satellite Aqua, launched in 2002, is equipped with an instrument called Atmospheric Infrared Probes (abbreviated AIRS) and is capable of producing detailed thermal maps in a large geographic area. NASA used this tool to monitor the change of temperature created by the polar vortex.
The AIRS instrument detects infrared and microwave energy that can then be covered on the map to reveal information about weather patterns and total climates. This is an incredibly powerful tool that has helped the weather forecast community to better predict changes in both the short and long term. In this case, it gives us a great vision of what has just happened and why.
NASA explains what we see here:
The lowest temperatures are shown in purple and blue and range from -40 degrees Celsius to -10 degrees Celsius. As the data series progresses, you can see how the coolest purple areas of the airborne hit the US.
Temperatures, causing winds at -50 degrees Fahrenheit and even lower in some areas, caused great problems for many Middle-East states. Schools and companies have been closed for several days, and the cold has also taken several lives.
It is expected that the region will gradually warm up over the next few days and return to temperatures that are more similar to those expected in late January or early February.