Will the UK get America's Big Freeze and snow?

A woman walks through a gust of blowing snow in downtown Chicago Credit: Reuters

Will we get America's Big Freeze and snow?

In a short answer - no.

Much of the States is experiencing a dangerous and severe cold spell - in turn this has spawned a winter storm named as Hercules by the Weather Channel.

The dip in the wave which is the jet stream - a fast flowing ribbon of meandering air stretching the circumference of the globe, miles up in the atmosphere - has allowed extremely cold air to sink in from the North Pole.

This is known as a polar vortex - a word we're hearing more of.

As explained by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), this is a large scale, persistent low pressure or anti-clockwise circulation high up in the atmosphere and exists near the poles.

It's weaker in summer and stronger in winter. In winter, a piece of this system can break off and travel south on the jet stream - as is the case in this present major cold snap.

It is not a new phenomenon. It can't be seen by the human eye - as like the jet stream it's miles up in the atmosphere - but in turn drives our weather.

A polar vortex is not dangerous, but the severely, exceptionally cold, polar (or arctic) air associated with it at ground level can be.

A similar - but more extreme, polar vortex situation occurred in 1985. Around 126 people lost their lives due to the record-breaking cold - along with wild and domesticated animals, serious crop losses and infrastructure damage.

Like now, the cold extended as far south as Florida, where around 90% of the citrus crop was destroyed and was dubbed 'The Freeze of the Century'.

A blast of arctic air has gripped major US cities from the Midwest to the East Coast in recent days Credit: Reuters

We won't get this freezing, arctic air mass. We never get America's weather - it wouldn't survive the journey across the Atlantic.

The remnants of Hercules will sweep from the States across to us on Friday - but this trek will be seriously modified by the relatively mild or 'warm' Atlantic.

By the time it reaches us it'll be no more than another batch of windy, wet weather.