The first of the two storms strengthened at more than twice that rate. Its pressure fell a remarkable 55 millibars in 24 hours Saturday, from 1002 to 947 millibars.
As the explosive storm reached maturity, its winds hammered the Aleutian Islands. “Winds gusted up to 92 mph and 91 mph at Adak Island and Dutch Harbor, respectively, as the storm swept into the Bering Sea late Saturday into early Sunday,” Weather.com reported.
The local effects of the first of the two storms were documented by Craig Medred, an independent Alaskan journalist:
The 4,400 residents of the community of Unalaska, which surrounds the port of Dutch Harbor about 900 miles southwest of Anchorage, were hunkered down and waiting out the blow.Asked how bad things were on Sunday with winds blowing steady at 50 mph and gusting over 75 mph, Bong Tungul, manager of North Pacific Fuel, at first just laughed.“Bad?” he asked when he stopped laughing on the end of the phone line. “That’s an understatement. It’s really bad. It’s gusting bad. Luckily, people got a heads up on this.”Everything was pretty well battened down in Dutch by the time the storm made landfall, he said. Some windows were reported broken here and there around town, he said, and a couple boats broke loose in the harbor but were safely recovered.
The massive storm whipped up enormous waves. Early Monday, an ocean buoy “measured phenomenal seas for several hours,” the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center reported. Peak wave heights reached 52.2 feet.
The next powerhouse storm is forecast to lash Alaska’s Aleutian Islands with a second round of hurricane-force wind gusts Monday night and Tuesday.
The National Weather Service has hoisted hurricane-force wind warnings for sections of the Aleutians through Tuesday and said gusts as high as 100 mph are possible.
The minimum pressure of this second storm is forecast to crash to 943 millibars Tuesday down from 979 millibars Monday — easily meeting bomb criteria. A pressure this low is the equivalent of some Category 3 or 4 hurricanes. Wave heights could again approach 50 feet.
While such intense back-to-back storms are remarkable, this region is used to ferocious fall and winter storms and has seen stronger. In December 2015, the pressure in one Bering Sea storm dropped to 924 millibars, tying the record for the lowest in the North Pacific.