Extraordinary meteorological phenomenon: the “perfect storm”, an explosive combination

Have you ever heard of the “perfect storm”? The perfect Storm, in English, is not just the title of a disaster film released in 2000, with George Clooney and Mark Whalberg. The “perfect storm” is a very real meteorological phenomenon, which gave rise to the book of the same name and then the movie. Therefore, a meteorological phenomenon of this type has already occurred and may still occur again.

The best known of the “perfect storms” is the one that occurred along the American east coast between October 28 and November 2, 1991, the origin of the successful movie released 9 years later.

How does a perfect storm form? These are the remains of a hurricane from the tropics that merge with a very deep depression in the Atlantic. These hurricane remnants travel very far north, unusually, and therefore form an extratropical storm. The combination of the two systems, extratropical storm and depression, gives rise to an explosive and devastating phenomenon.

The storm of 1991, also called the “storm ofHallowe’enHallowe’en » formed from Hurricane Grace at the end of its life and a depression traveling near the Canadian coast. The low pressure system was so large and powerful that it literally swallowed the remains of the hurricane.

The phenomenon suddenly strengthened, not allowing alerts weather reportweather report be heard in time by sailors on the open sea. This storm remained at sea without reaching the coast, but caused waveswaves giants from 15 to 30 meters high, and an important submersionsubmersion, up to 4 meters, in the United States (North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island) and Canada (Nova Scotia). Twelve people died, mainly sailors, and the event caused $200 million in damage.

An event like this is not impossible in Europe.

More recently, Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the coasts of New Jersey and New York in 2012, could also be called a perfect storm, or even Hurricane Fiona, which hit Canada in September 2022.

And in Europe? It is common for remnants of hurricanes to travel to our coasts, and sometimes merge with a depression. However, the phenomenon does not necessarily lead to violent storms, but simply disturbances in the passages. But the combination of very specific weather conditions that led to the “perfect storm” of 1991 is not impossible along European coasts.

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