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How a Storm Became Big Enough to Span the Atlantic

The storm ranges from Eastern Canada all the way to Spain and north to Greenland


An image of the storm taken by the MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite on March 27, 2013. (NASA)

There is currently a massive storm churning over the Atlantic that spans the entire ocean basin, stretching all the way from Canada to Europe, and from Greenland to the Caribbean.

It's the same weather system that brought a massive spring blizzard to much of the United States and Canada earlier this week (on Tuesday (March 26), 44 of 50 states had some snow on the ground), and which has now ballooned in size, according to Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist with the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.

Robert Oszajca, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service's Ocean Prediction Center, explained that the storm got this big by merging with several low-pressure systems that were hanging out over the Atlantic Ocean. The merging weather systems gave it more power, which was accentuated by a gradient between warm moisture from the southeast, delivered by the Gulf Stream, and frigid air from the north. This intensified the storm, causing it to spin, elongate and grow in size, Oszajca told OurAmazingPlanet.

Normally, the system would have drifted into Europe several days ago. However, a high-pressure system over Greenland blocked the low-pressure system's advance, which allowed it to strengthen further, fed by cold air from the north. This created winds (which move from high pressure to low pressure) up to 75 mph (120 km/h), equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane, Oszajca said.

"We're impressed with the size of this storm," he said. Nevertheless, storms this big form about once or twice every winter.

The storm, which looks like a large comma whose tail stretches into the Caribbean, ranges from Eastern Canada all the way to Spain and north to Greenland. It has created waves up to 42 feet (13 meters) high, Oszajca said.

The storm has already begun to weaken, however, as the high-pressure "blocking" system to the north has eased. Oszajca said the central low-pressure system that has powered the storm will soon break up into several separate centers, and the storm will fragment before hitting Portugal in about four days. The storm isn't expected to be very intense by the time it reaches Europe, he added.

Email Douglas Main or follow him @Douglas_Main. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook or Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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mandmjlrscvca

Lots of cute and silly comments. Hope the fish don't catch cold.

March 29 2013 at 8:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
workshelf

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own facts. It is sad that people feel they must rant, rage and call names to get their point across when the reality is they are too under-educated to construct a word argument that makes sense. Blowing hot air on a discussion board and seeing their words in print makes them feel smart. The best argument is one which persuades people, and when there are no facts there is no basis for argument. Ignorance may be bliss but it certainly produces a lot of verbal outrage in the lemmings who eat nothing but the fast food of media sound bytes and never ask questions about content. Anger alone never solves anything and rarely produces a truth that doesn't hurt someone.

March 29 2013 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
grammypit

Oh, just look around at all the violent storms, and unusually warm weather in some areas and unusually cold weather in others. Yes, there is definitely climate change. Polar ice caps are melting and the sea is washing away beaches, our sea coast is eroding. Anyone can see these things happening.
As for the racist, ignorant comments, it is so sad that this country has not come to realize that we are all human beings, and skin color, be it black, yellow, brown or white does not make a whit of difference on who we are. Some of us are smart, brilliant, in fact, others of us are a bit dull, and some just never realize the beauty in people because they do not want to do so.

March 29 2013 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donrahilly

Man made global warming my rear. We were told twenty years ago that in 20 years the oceans would rise three feet. If people check their facts the CO2 levels have dropped drastically since 1994. The oceans haven't risen measurably according to Duke Labs. Gore should be gored.

March 29 2013 at 7:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
BillsCatz

It's that Kim Jong II again, put the NK voodoo on the weather.

March 29 2013 at 7:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jlipdude

Thank you to "The Duke" for your right-wing, racist rant, your despicable characterization of Al Gore as a cocaine addict, and for calling our President a "lying Sambo." Your ignorance and bigotry invalidate any worthwhile objection that might have been buried in all that rage, so again, thank you for saving me so much time - I nor anyone else need reply to you. BTW, I have reported your rant to AOL as "abuse." It is. How pitiful you are.

March 29 2013 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jlipdude's comment
thedofuss

j,
obviously, the duke post is not meritorious of any response, and i presume that most people agree with your sentiments. however, it does indirectly pose the following, possibly interesting questions:
1) is the "right" for everyone (citizen or not, legally or not) to be able to say whatever they want to, about anyone they want to, regardless of the consequences to anyone, in any format that they choose, really a good idea? clearly, we pride ourselves on this being a laudable precept, and it certainly is seemingly a no-brainer, but it is obvious that, as with any "right", it can be more than abused--assuming that dukes post represents his/her true beliefs (theres always that issue with the internet--is this post a set up, just to illicit responses, e.g.);
2) who at huffy determines what is posted and what is not, and more interestingly, with what objective? i, like many posters, have had my posts rejected, versus the dukes, which were accepted. no hard feelings here, but what possible value can these subject posts offer, i.e., sans a hidden agenda?

just some ramblings on my part, since im free to do that. :-).

March 29 2013 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matt

The oceanic subtropical highs are like the continents in the world as we know it: they are always there, sliding over the ITCZ, closer to the equator in summer than in winter.
No more.
This is what the journalist fails to see in the picture that he describes as "I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a storm this big before."

Depicting the outer band of a low as a high that vanished for the first time in recorded History illustrates the refusal to admit the end of the world as we know it.
ONE loop immediately returns the SIMPLE TRUTH - NO oceanic subtropical high in sight
http://weather.unisys.com/satellite/sat_wv.php?inv=0&t=l12&region=ea


Talk of ITCZ and ONE loop immediately returning the SIMPLE TRUTH about the world the illuminati depicted for the human cattle:
See 06/05/2011 10:36 PM reply of Illuminati End Time Prophet Matt to
"WHY ARE WEATHER SYSTEMS MOVING FROM THE CARIBBEAN TOWARD AFRICA??"
http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1517817/pg1

March 29 2013 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Duke

There is no Global Warming, it is Junk Science, an opinion--there is nothing to prove any of this garbage that we are changing the weather and the climate..Science is not an opinion, it is facts--Liberals are trying to re-write the definition of science, but it will not fly. Tell these scum bag earth loving con artists to shove it.

March 29 2013 at 7:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Duke

One nice thing about the world is weather, it is very unpredictable, we have spring, fall, winter and summer--all have different weather agenda's...As much as liberals like to think they are so powerful and so smart--we can not and do not have any effect on the weather--the weather has no political agenda, that is what is so nice about it.. Do not buy into any of these scams that tell you we must do this, we must pay for this and we must respect our planet other than using common sense.. Obama and the entire green global warming scams are nothing more than a huge power grab and massive fraud.. Why is gas 4.15 a gallon when it was only 1.74 a gallon when bush handed the lying Sambo the keys to the WH???

March 29 2013 at 6:59 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to The Duke's comment
The Duke

There is no Global Warming, some of these idiots treat it like a religion, it is a scam, a fraud, all lies and junk science---Science is not ones opinion, it is based on 100% fact regardless of your agenda...Throw this smelly corrupt pig Gore in prison where he belongs and strip him of every dime, every home, every private gas guzzling jet and gas guzzling cars and trucks he has fleeced from the taxpayers with his fraud. . He is a 2 faced arrogant pompous liar and not worth 10 cents in my opinion--In fact, Al Gores grave site would make a great urinal for most of us.

March 29 2013 at 6:53 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
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