The Storm That Ate the Atlantic

January 29, 2016
Monster Spring Storm 2013
NOAA

Spring 2013 came. So did a blizzard. The spring storm rumbled through North America, and left snow in 44 of 50 states and all of Canada.

Then it rolled into the Atlantic Ocean and became a real monster! By the last day of March, the storm stretches across the entire ocean, from Canada to Spain, Greenland to the Caribbean. It became a storm on steroids.

This giant storm now reaches from Greenland to the Caribbean, Canada to Spain. Source: NASA

The storm is much more powerful as well. The Atlantic is unusually warm and it has been using this energy to grow. Now, its 75mph (120.7 kmh) winds are as strong as a Category 1 hurricane. It is creating waves 42 ft. (13 m.) high.

Here's some insight …

When the Atlantic is hot, it energizes storms two ways.

  • First, heat provides energy and moisture, which helps storms grow.
  • Secondly, it creates a blocking pattern, called the Greenland High, which slows storms down and keeps them from drifting east. (This same blocking pattern in October drove Hurricane Sandy towards New Jersey.) Normally the late March blizzard would have raced across the Atlantic, but the Greenland High pinned it in the North Atlantic.

Ultimately, several more low pressures drifted into the storm strengthening it. Meanwhile it was fed by heat from the south and Arctic air from the north.

The Greenland High blocked the storm, so it gathered more cold fronts and grew!

Think of it as a Frankenstorm—a giant made from the parts of several storms and energized by ocean heat and Arctic wind.

Fortunately, for Europe, scientists expect the storm will fall apart. They predict it will fragment into several fronts before it reaches Portugal later this week. In the end, Europe should only feel a series of minor storms. But for now, there is a monster swirling in the Atlantic.

The spring blizzard that left snow in 44 0f 50 states Source: NOAA

Did you experience the storm? Please share your thoughts.

 

About This Blog

Mike Steinberg is Senior Vice President for Special Initiatives at AccuWeather Inc in State College, Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the National Weather Association and the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

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