Massive Alaska storm tied an all-time intensity record

Monster Strom Threatens Alaska
Monster Strom Threatens Alaska

A gargantuan, monster storm developed off the southwest coast of Alaska from Dec. 12-14, lashing the outermost Aleutian islands with winds equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane, and producing towering waves capable of sinking large ships.

The storm, which maxed out at an intensity of about 924 millibars, in terms of its minimum central air pressure, likely tied the record for the strongest North Pacific non-tropical storm (in general, the lower the pressure the stronger the storm). According to meteorologist Jeff Halverson, writing for the Capital Weather Gang blog, this low pressure reading tied the record for the lowest wintertime pressure in the North Pacific Ocean since such records began in the winter of 1969-1970.

The previous strongest storm in this region occurred last year.

The storm resulted in an astonishingly strong wind gust to 122 miles per hour at Adak Island, Alaska, and had a large swath of hurricane-force winds. The strongest winds were associated with what's known as a "sting jet" that comes in on the backside of such a storm, enhancing winds near the surface. Scientists have only identified this feature of powerful low pressure systems in recent years.

Explosive Cyclogenesis in W Pacific

Explosive cyclogenesis in the W Pacific!This video of the Himawari-8 RGB air mass product shows the explosive development of a low pressure system in the W Pacific. Multiple shortwave troughs are shown moving off of Asia and merging with a developing low pressure system near Japan. The system then moves over the Kiroshio Current E of Japan which injects low level heat and moisture into the system and creates a very unstable vertical profile. The system then rapidly intensifies to a hurricane force low (winds ≥ 64 knots), and continues NE toward the Bering Sea. The intense development causes tropopause folding and a stratospheric intrusion in the subsidence south of the low center in the strong cold advection. The intrusion is indicated in the imagery through the shades of light pink to the south of low center.This video contains no speech or other audio information necessary for the comprehension of the content. It is best viewed in HD. It is also available on the OPC's YouTube Channel at this direct link: imagery in this video is courtesy of the GOES-R Proving Ground.

Posted by NOAA NWS Ocean Prediction Center on Saturday, December 12, 2015

The storm is influencing the weather across Alaska as it weakens but continues to spin off the coast. It will also help to initiate a southward movement of cooler air from northwest Canada into the northwest U.S. during the next week.

See more of the craziest weather images of 2015:

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