Freak Storm Pushes North Pole Temperature to 50 Degrees Above Normal

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
December 30, 2015 Updated: December 30, 2015

A low pressure system in the North Atlantic has spawned a series of tornadoes in Texas and a fierce storm in Europe, among other impacts.

But the strangest effect so far has been the rise in temperature at the North Pole to the freezing mark, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Big Icelandic storms are common in winter, but this one may rank among the strongest and will draw northward an incredible surge of warmth pushing temperatures at the North Pole over 50 degrees above normal. This is mind-boggling,” reported the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

“It’s as if a bomb went off. And, in fact, it did. The exploding storm acts [as] a remarkably efficient heat engine, drawing warm air from the tropics to the top of the Earth.”

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute indicates that the average temperature at the pole this time of year is minus 40 degrees, although meteorologist Ryan Maue says it’s closer to minus 20 degrees.

CNN Senior Meteorologist Brandon Miller said that the low-pressure system that’s moved through the U.S. and northern Europe, combined with a high-pressure system that’s over Siberia, have pulled warm air from southern Europe and northern Africa. 

“Because of the strength of the two systems, it’s allowing that air to travel farther north than it normally would,” he said.

Neither system is uncommon this time of year, but their power and combination is unusual.

He expects the temperature to return to normal very soon, but the long-term impact remains to be seen. 

“Some climate models predict an ice-free Arctic at least part of the year in the coming decades,” Miller said. “If you’re going to have an ice-free Arctic and you’re going to have big melts in the summertime but also limit ice recovery in the winter, you’re going to have to have events like this happen.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.