The Chicago skyline is seen beyond the Arctic sea smoke rising off Lake Michigan in Chicago during the meteorological phenomenon known as the polar vortex that brought freezing conditions to the Midwestern city. Jan. 6, 2014. Reuters

Meteorologists revealed this week the possible return of the weather phenomenon known as the polar vortex that brought temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast down to record lows in January 2014, resulting in dangerous conditions and widespread damages, Reuters reported Friday.

The term was popularized by meteorologist Ryan Maue and journalist Andrew Freedman. Maue announced Tuesday via his Twitter account that atmospheric conditions were developing not unlike the "infamous" polar vortex nearly three years ago. Freezing temperatures along with icy winds meant that some places in the country fell to as low as minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the deaths of at least nine people and affecting around 200 million total. Analysts said the event cost the U.S. economy an estimated $5 billion.

Now experts have warned that a new polar vortex had its sights set on Midwestern cities, including the region's largest metropolitan center, Chicago. The city expected temperatures next week as cold as nine degrees Fahrenheit with lows falling to three degrees. Other cities such as Minneapolis were also bracing for extreme weather.

The meteorological term polar vortex refers to freezing Arctic air that circulates around the North Pole, above northern Canada and Siberia. Normally, this cold air is kept at bay by powerful winds known as the polar jet stream. At times, the polar jet stream weakens, causing the freezing polar vortex air to spill downwards into more densely populated regions accustomed to warmer conditions such as the Midwestern and Northeastern U.S.

Severe weather has already begun hitting parts of the country. A storm bombarded Seattle with snow Thursday and is expected to reach the Midwest and Northeast by the end of the week and beginning of next week, bringing severe weather along with it. Friday's forecast also saw extremely cold weather in North Dakota and Minnesota with wind chills that brought temperatures below zero.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated how cold it was during the 2014 polar vortex.