A combination of rare and powerful weather conditions were predicted to raise temperatures at the North Pole to more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit above average on Wednesday.
The forecast appeared correct as a reading on a weather buoy drifting in ice near the pole climbed above the freezing point — an almost unthinkable temperature for the Arctic in the middle of winter considering there’s no daylight for weeks.
The bizarre, and in some cases cataclysmic, weather reached across other regions of the North Atlantic on Wednesday. Forecasts said hurricane-force winds would blast Iceland.
In fact, the storm threatened to be one of the most powerful on record in the North Atlantic.
One feature of the weather is a sudden and severe loss of barometric pressure. If it drops fast enough, it could unleash a phenomenon ominously called a “bomb cyclone,” according to The Washington Post.
The low-pressure system disturbing the normal Arctic conditions is the same behemoth that produced devastating cyclones in the southern United States and triggered flooding along the Mississippi River in recent days.
Called Storm Frank in the United Kingdom, the heavy rain and strong winds are looming over the U.K., which is reeling from severe flooding there over the weekend.
Temperatures above freezing could halt, at least temporarily, the growth of winter ice, the BBC reported. Diminishing ice coverage is associated with rising sea levels and can be hazardous to low-lying coastal communities.
The Arctic is experiencing a period of rapid warming, according to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The region is heating up twice as fast as anywhere in the world, the 2015 Arctic Report Card notes, and its average temperature is 5.2 degrees higher than it was in 1900.
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