The time-lapse photos are from NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.
According to NASA , a polar vortex is a wintertime feature of the stratosphere.
The vortex consists of winds spinning counterclockwise above the pole, the vortex varies in strength because of interactions with "planetary waves and global-scale disturbances that rise from the troposphere."
"The polar vortex acts like a big flywheel," Walter Robinson, a UI professor of atmospheric sciences, told NASA.
Meteorologists at the Weather Channel say the cold front, displaying "life-threatening" temperatures in some locations, is the coldest front they've seen in decades.
In Cincinnati, we are experiencing the coldest temps since 1996. The Tri-State is under a Wind Chill Warning until 5 p.m. Tuesday.