The paper deals with highly ionized atmospheric pressure argon and nitrogen plasmas generated close to the cathode by high-current (I≤500A) vortex stabilized plasmatron with a divergent channel. The specific powers released are as high as 100 GW/m3, the attained electron concentrations l1e and electron temperatures Te are∼2·1023m−3 and ∼2.5eV, respectively. The paper deals with the emission spectra taken over the range from the near ultraviolet to far infrared and radial distributions of ne and Te. Given these data, the ion temperature is assessed from the electron energy balance. The problem of whether the plasmas generated are quasi-stationary is examined. The applicability of a local approximation is also discussed.