That, my friends, is the strongest mid-latitude cyclone to impact the U.S. in 40 years. There have been plenty of strong storms to hit the United States, with the Hanukkah Eve Storm of 2006 and the Great Coastal Gale of 2007 recently impacting our region, with the eastern half of the United States experiencing the "Storm of the Century" back in 1993, which was very intense as well. I don't know if it was the storm of the century, though. If I had to choose the strongest storm to impact the U.S. in the 20th century, I would choose the Columbus Day Storm of October 12, 1962.
There is one particular storm that annoys the heck out of me, though. Not because it was a weak storm, but because it is the most overrated storm to ever impact the U.S. I'm talking about the "Perfect Storm" of October 31, 1991.
Take a look at this satellite picture, and tell me how wimpy this storm looks.
The "Perfect Storm" was actually a weak category 1 hurricane. The low currently in Alaska has widespread sustained category 1 or 2 hurricane force winds, and these winds cover an exceptionally large area. The low pressure from this storm bottomed out at 943 millibars, a pressure commonly associated with a category 4 hurricane.
Red Dog Dock, in the northwestern part of Alaska, is just one place that is being pounded by this storm. Check out the pressure and winds below!
Gusts to 80 knots! Amazing. This is not an isolated incident... winds like this have occurred throughout Western Alaska and are continuing further north.
The most incredible thing I have heard from this storm, however, is the accretion of rime ice. One coastal station peaked at a rate of 23.5 inches of rime ice per hour.
Waves are huge, a 10 foot storm surge is hitting Nome, and since this storm is so far north, precipitation is falling as snow and blizzard conditions are widespread.
Some news sources are claiming that this storm is a direct result of global warming. This statement is not backed up by scientific evidence, and it misses the whole idea behind global warming. Global warming is occurring, and this is evidenced by trends, such as warmer temperatures in the arctic and receding glaciers throughout the world. You cannot blame a singular weather event on global warming. If storms of these magnitude start pounding the Bering Sea consistently, one could make a connection between the increase of greenhouse gasses in the air and the occurrence of these storms. Right now, though, it is too early to say.
Lastly, I'd like to show you a video from Nome, Alaska.
Where is Jim Foreman when you need him?