Hawaii & Alaska
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AK - 'Bomb Cyclone' Builds in Aleutian Islands, Becoming Strongest Storm on Record to Hit Alaska

A powerhouse storm explosively intensifying in the northern Pacific could rank as the strongest nontropical cyclone observed in that ocean basin.

The storm’s pressure has already dropped to 921 millibars on New Year’s Eve, which is even lower than extreme cyclones that formed in the same vicinity in 2014 and 2015. It now qualifies as the strongest storm on record to hit Alaska, according to Rick Thoman, a climate scientist at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

The lower the pressure, generally, the stronger the storm. The two northern Pacific cyclones that set records in 2014 and 2015 saw their pressures level off at around 924 millibars, which means this storm has eclipsed their intensities.

On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service’s Ocean Prediction Center confirmed that the storm is already generating 110 mph winds. On satellite imagery, the storm appears as a giant comma-shaped swirl of clouds, a textbook appearance for a strong nontropical weather system.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the European model had analyzed the storm’s pressure at 972 millibars. It predicted the pressure will tumble to 921 millibars just 24 hours later, a 51-millibar drop. This plunge in pressure is double the criteria for “bombogenesis,” in which a storm’s pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours and earns the “bomb cyclone” moniker.

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