North Atlantic Hurricane-Force Storm Affecting Main Shipping Lanes

NOAA OPC Surface Analysis 1200UTC 20 Feb 2018

An intense hurricane-force storm low over the central North Atlantic was producing significant wave heights of an incredible 19 meters (62 feet) today, according to the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center.

After dumping some moderate to heavy snow in the US Northeast, this low rapidly intensified overnight on Saturday, developing hurricane force winds in excess of 64 knots by Sunday morning.

A satellite pass showing a max significant wave height of 61.23 feet (18.7 meters) in the North Atlantic on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Credit: NOAA

Extreme Wave Heights

The latest NOAA Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) analysis for 20th 12 00 UTC shows and extreme max significant wave height of nearly 19 meters. This storm could set a new record for this part of the Atlantic.

Note: Significant wave height is the average height of the tallest one-third of waves (from trough to crest), so individual waves are likely to be much, much bigger.

Danger to Shipping

This storm poses an extreme danger to maritime shipping as it has tracked eastward at a fairly low latitude over some of the main shipping channels connecting North Europe and Mediterranean ports and US East Coast and Gulf ports.

The good news, however, is this monster is forecast to weaken rapidly over the next 24 hours.

Learn more about these wintertime hurricane-force storms

Learn more about ocean waves

About Fred Pickhardt

I am a marine meteorologist and sailed briefly with American Export Lines in the Far East trade after graduating from State University of New York Maritime College. I have extensive experience in weather analysis, weather forecasting, optimum ship routing, vessel performance evaluations and forensic weather event reconstructions. I founded Ocean Weather Services and as Owner and Chief Consultant currently provide optimum ship routing services and forensic marine weather reports to the maritime industry.
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