The ferocious storm cell that spawned deadly tornadoes in the US over the weekend is expected to develop into what meteorologists call a "bomb cyclone", steering exceptionally warm air over the Arctic and more flooding rains into the UK.
One widely used computer model, the Global Forecast System, is predicting the storm to drop pressure levels sharply by Tuesday night, easily exceeding the "bomb cyclone" criteria of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, according to the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.
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Nature set to drop a bomb on the Atlantic
Known as a 'bomb cyclone' because of the devastating damage it can cause, a massive storm system is about to set staggering records in the Arctic.
"We've probably never seen weather like what's being predicted for a vast region stretching from the North Atlantic to the North Pole and on into the broader Arctic this coming week," said Robert Scribbler, an environmental blogger.
Mr Scribbler said the storm, now to the south of Greenland, is likely to link up to two other powerful low pressure systems in the North Atlantic, creating a "truly extreme storm system".
"The Icelandic coast and near off-shore regions are expected to see heavy precipitation hurled over the island by 90 to 100 mile (144-161km) per hour or stronger winds raging out of 35-40 foot (10.7-12.2m) seas ," he said. "Meanwhile, the UK will find itself in the grips of an extraordinarily strong southerly gale running over the backs of 30-foot swells."
The storm will also drag warm air over the high Arctic. with the North Pole temperatures likely to climb to 1-2 degrees above zero on Wednesday - or 41-42 degrees above average for this time of year, Mr Scribber said:
"Needless to say, a 1-2 [degree] reading at the North Pole during late December is about as odd as witnessing Hell freezing over," Mr Scribbler wrote. "But, in this case, the latest wave of warmth issuing from a human-driven shift toward climatological hell appears to be on schedule to arrive at the North Pole in just a few more days."
Meteorologists debated the extent of the abnormal Arctic warmth, with some saying the divergence would be closer to 30 degrees above the average for the North Pole at this time of year - but still a remarkable temperature spike.
How many NPole readings > 32°F? None Jan-Mar but 3 in Dec, per NCEP/NCAR reanalysis 1948-2014 (Steven Cavallo, OU) pic.twitter.com/OwavFZwftx— Bob Henson (@bhensonweather) December 29, 2015
The North Pole, shrouded in darkness at this time of year, is likely to be warmer than regions of southern California, Oklahoma and Texas, according to US meteorologist Eric Holthaus:
Temps at the North Pole should be near 40°F on Wednesday, warmer than OKC, El Paso, and southern California. pic.twitter.com/eODv4k9B71— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) December 28, 2015
While meteorologists and climatologists will likely debate for some time the specific climate change contribution to the weather across much of the Northern Hemisphere this month, scientists have long known that the atmosphere can hold about 7 per cent more moisture for each degree of warming, potentially leading to more energetic storms.
The planet is about 1 degree warmer than pre-industrial times. Almost 200 nations vowed at this month's Paris climate summit to work to keep temperatures increases to "well below 2 degrees".
Cleaning up and preparing for more
For now, though, the focus is likely to containing or repairing the damage from tornadoes that have left at least 40 people dead in the US, while hundreds of river gauges are reporting some flooding.
This is insane. You don't expect peak Mississippi River flooding in early winter. https://t.co/XRkpXOOgQw— Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) December 28, 2015
The UK's Met Office is expecting more heavy rain to come from what it dubs Storm Frank.
Areas recently hit by flooding, such as Cumbria in northern England, may cop a further 100-150mm of rain, the Met Office said.
"We expect stormy conditions to return midweek, and have already issued National Severe Weather Warnings for gales on Tuesday and heavy rain on Wednesday, as a rapidly deepening area of low pressure, Storm Frank, passes to the northwest of the UK," Will Lang, the Met Office's chief meteorologist, said.
"Everyone should be aware of the potential for disruption in places from further flooding and the impacts of the gales to transport, especially in areas such as southern and central Scotland and Cumbria where amber 'be prepared' warnings are in place."
The Met Office notes that occasionally storm weather "is not unusual for this time of year", and the that UK was hit by a similar strength storm in the 2013-14 winter.
Even so, the widespread flooding has prompted renewed daebate in the UK over the impacts of climate change and whether the government is doing enough to prepare for it.
Meteorologists, meanwhile, have used terms such as "cyclone bombs" or "meteorological bombs" since 1980 to storms that originate in the tropics and bring sudden, severe drops in air pressure. The four regions of the world where such explosive cyclonic events are most active are the north-west and south-west Pacific, and the North and South Atlantic.
"It's as if a bomb went off. And, in fact, it did," said Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang, about this week's event. "The exploding storm acts a remarkably efficient heat engine, drawing warm air from the tropics to the top of the Earth."