Gaze Into the Giant Storm Swirling Over the Pacific Ocean

Image: Colorado State University

Forget Bad Winter, a season of Boring Winter is upon us. At least, if you live in the Northeast U.S. Head on over to the North Pacific, and it’s a different story.


There, a massive winter storm is churning that’s been perfectly captured by not one but two satellites. Despite its prodigious size, it has no name. It is just storm. (An unnamed Gizmodo editor said it should be called Oscar.)

Himawari-8, the Japanese satellite centered over the western Pacific, caught the storm as it ramped up while GOES-17, the spiffy new American satellite over the eastern Pacific caught it as it swirled toward North America. From both sides, the storm is absolutely gorgeous. You can see the Himawari-8 image up top, and here’s the GOES-17 iteration as it wraps toward Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

I mean just look at that storm.
Image: Colorado State University

Big boys like this bomb out in the North Pacific with some regularity each winter, thanks to sharp gradient of cold air in the Arctic and warm air in the tropics coupled with a potent jet stream. But this sucker is impressive even by North Pacific standards. On Thursday, the storm’s central pressure bottomed out at 937 millibars, pressure commonly associated with powerful hurricanes (Hurricane Florence hit 939 millibars for comparison). It runs from Alaska to California tip to tail.

The National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center, which remains in operation despite the shutdown, tweeted that the storm was churning up waves up to 56.7 feet in height in the North Pacific. As it continued its march toward the West Coast, the storm kept its comma-shaped structure that makes it look like a classic nor’easter. The storm is one of a parade of low pressure systems is expected to continue into next week, bringing rain and snow to the West Coast as well as the possibility of more meteorological eye candy.

Managing editor, Earther


Sparky Polastry

Wow that thing’s huge.  I wonder if we’ll get some substantial rain next week in southern Ca...not that we don’t need it, but with the recent fires and the possibility of funding for mostly flood mitigation being potentially jacked by Forrest Trump, we may not want a lot of rain yet.