The Washington Post

Five mind-boggling images of freak Atlantic storm

Satellite view of storm Saturday (UK Met Office)

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.

Satellite view of storm Friday night/Saturday morning (National Ocean Service)

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.

Computer simulation for wave heights associated with storm early Sunday (Facebook/Stu Ostro/The Weather Channel)

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.

Satellite view of the storm Saturday morning ( U.S. Naval Research Laboratory via Jeff Masters )

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.

Satellite view of storm Saturday ( NERC Satellite Receive Station, Dundee University Scotland, via Stu Ostro )
Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.


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