Ask a Climatologist: An Alaska-sized storm sets record

The Dec. 31, 2020 “bomb” cyclone over Shemya Island. (

At the end of 2020, a massive Aleutian storm set a record for the lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the North Pacific … but you may not have heard about it.

Thankfully, the 60-foot seas and 80 mph winds were hundreds of miles from most Alaskans. But what does it actually mean for there to be an area of extreme low pressure?

National Weather Service climate researcher Brian Brettschneider spoke with Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove to explain.

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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at