What began as a weak, moisture-deprived disturbance over the U.S. late last week, transformed into a storm of incredible size and strength over the North Atlantic this weekend.
Its minimum pressure, an indicator of intensity (lower=stronger), crashed to levels lower than Superstorm Sandy, tanking an astonishing 54 millibars in 24 hours. It blew away the definition of a meteorological bomb which is a pressure fall of 24 millibars in 24 hours.
At its height Saturday, the storm’s minimum pressure was 930-932 millibars - the equivalent of a strong category 4 hurricane (Sandy’s was 940 mb).
The massive storm generated giant waves. Models simulated its peak wave heights at over 50 feet. AccuWeather’s Jesse Ferrell says waves reached 42.7 feet at two buoys off the Ireland coast earlier today.
University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass called the storm an “extraordinarily intense cyclone.”Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman described it as “ferocious” while NOAA’s National Ocean Service characterized its satellite appearance as “beautiful, textbook.”
Fortunately, when it reached that peak intensity, the storm was over the open ocean rather than land.
On Sunday, it grazed the United Kingdom but the UK Met Office was underwhelmed by its local effects. It noted, at its closest approach, the storm was 600 miles to the northwest of Scotland, and was far less disruptive than a storm that washed ashore just a year before.
While the storm was freakishly strong, it didn’t rank among the deepest (lowest pressure) on record in the North Atlantic. Wunderground meteorologist Jeff Masters listed 5 storms that reach minimum central pressures between 920 and 926 mb since the late 1800s, as catalogued by British weather historian Stephen Burt.