A powerful winter storm system — possibly rivaling the strongest ever in the North Atlantic — was pushing toward the Irish coast Saturday as Storm Dennis began to merge with another off Iceland, taking aim at the United Kingdom and the European mainland with likely wind gusts up to 85 mph.
Storm Dennis, named by the U.K.’s national meteorological service, was moving along a more southern track and was one part of storm system that also roared across Greenland and began pounding Iceland on Friday.
Hurricane-force winds of up to 98 mph and monster waves that could reach over 100 feet high were already roaring across the North Atlantic on Saturday, the U.S. National Weather Service’s Ocean Prediction Center said.
Alan Reppert, senior meteorologist withe Accuweather.com, said Dennis will be a “very intense storm” likely to slam the coastal areas of Ireland, the U.K., along with France and Northern Germany with wind gusts up to 85 mph.
The storm has undergone bombogenesis, the Weather Channel reported, which means it can be called a bomb cyclone. Bombogenesis occurs when a storm’s barometric pressure drops by 24 millibars – a millibar is a way of measuring pressure – in 24 hours.
The central pressure in Dennis dropped more than 50 millibars in 24 hours, and forecasts indicated that the central pressure of Storm Dennis could fall below 930 millibars, increasing its intensity and likelihood of strong winds, according to the Weather Channel.
If the pressure drops into the 910s, it would become one of the most intense North Atlantic storms on record, the Weather Channel reports.
The all-time lowest pressure on record for a North Atlantic storm hit 913 millibars in January 1993 near Scotland’s Shetland Islands, according to Weather Underground weather historian Christopher Burt. During the storm, the super oil taker Braer crashed in rocky shoals, causing a massive oil spill.
In Britain, airlines have canceled hundreds of flights out of London and other U.K. airports and train lines warned about possible delays and cancellations. Tens of thousands of passengers will be affected on what is a busy travel day for families as most schools in the country closed for a one-week mid-winter break.
The weather is expected to strike all areas of Britain, including parts of northern England still recovering from Storm Ciara last weekend. That storm left at least eight people dead across Europe, including two in the U.K.
Contributing: Associated Press