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Gulf of Alaska Cyclone Brings Havoc to West Coast

A massive storm system, known as an “extratropical cyclone,” that formed in the Gulf of Alaska over the past week is causing heavy impacts along the West Coast. 

The intense low pressure system has been eddying over the Gulf, casting intense weather patterns throughout Southeastern Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and beyond. High surf advisories have been issued as far south as California, prompting the Bay Area National Weather Service office in San Fransisco to issue a dire tweet that warned “STAY WELL BACK FROM THE OCEAN OR RISK CERTAIN DEATH” onSaturday. Wave heights up to 50 feet were reported in the region.

Other impacts from the event included heavy rain across Washington andOregon and large snowfall accumulations in the mountain ranges of the area such as the Cascade Range. Additionally, possible flooding was predicted for the area.

According to an article onWeather Underground, extratropical cyclones “have cold air at their core,and derive their energy from the release of potential energy when cold and warm air masses interact.” While resembling more familiar tropical storms in structure, they do not have the ability to develop into hurricanes though they can have winds that are just as strong. Blizzards and Nor’easters are two examples of extratropical cyclones.

This strong storm system is likely to have reached its peak on Monday and is expected to weaken over the next few days.