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Super Typhoon Nuri's eye on infrared satellite. Image: (NOAA/NASA and RAMMB/CIRA)

Super Typhoon Nuri’s eye on infrared satellite. Image: (NOAA/NASA and RAMMB/CIRA)


The Inertia

Typhoon Nuri, that massive storm in the Pacific that peaked over the weekend with winds topping 180 miles an hour, is now expected to develop into something on an even bigger scale: a storm so massive, it has the potential to become the biggest storm in its region’s recorded history.

Although right now, Nuri is clocking in as a category 1 hurricane, it hit category 5 just a few days ago. Now models are showing that a trough will pick up the hurricane within a day or two as it works its way northward. This will create conditions ideal for something labeled by meteorologists as “bombogenesis” – which means two things: the central pressure will drop more than 24 millibars in 24 hours, and meteorogists are basically five-year-old when it comes to giving things awesome names.

To someone that doesn’t know the significance of a storm dropping that much in such short period of time, the name bombogenesis should give you a pretty decent idea of what happens.  As Nuri moves northward from east of Japan into the northern Pacific and the Bering Sea, it will reach much colder conditions pushing down from the Arctic. According to Jason Samenow, Capital Weather’s chief meteorologist, everything is lining up for Nuri to become the strongest storm in the area’s recorded history. “Typhoon Nuri,” he wrote in an article in the Washington Times, “is on the brink of an explosive transformation and rejuvenation unlike anything I’ve seen in all my years of storm watching.” Nuri’s central pressure is expected to plummet an astounding 58 millibars – bombogenesis at its very best. “As this tropical storm transitions into an extratropical (or temperate) storm,” Samenow continued, “it is literally going to go haywire.”

The Bering Sea is no stranger to storms of titanic proportions. Although the lowest extratropical pressure ever recorded for any location occurred in the North Atlantic in 1993, the Bering Sea is infamous for the ferocity of its storms.

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Andrew Freeman, Mashable’s Senior Climate Reporter, is expecting the storm to set records, as well. “Consider if the storm’s minimum central pressure bottoms out below 925 millibars — as is currently forecast by most computer models — it would set a record for the lowest pressure recorded in the Bering Sea,” he wrote. The current record holder is 925 millibars, set in October 1977 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The storm’s evolution is influenced by the temperature difference between the tropics and the Arctic. As it charges northward toward the Bering Sea, models are picking up high altitude wind speeds over well over 200 miles an hour. Looking at models of temperatures at 5000 feet, the temperature drops nearly 40 degrees in a very short distance, which is the cause of the steep drop in central pressure. As the storm bears towards the Aleutians and Alaska, forecasters are calling for waves in excess of 50 feet, and potentially much higher in the Bering Strait.

GFS simulated temperatures at an altitude of 5,000 feet.

GFS simulated temperatures at an altitude of 5,000 feet.

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