The 2015-16 Arctic Cyclone Season was a slightly above average season in the Arctic Cyclone Basin. The season officially began on November 1 and ended on January 7, dates that typically delimit the start and end of the season. However, Polar Storm Angel formed nearly 4 weeks before the season officially begins on October 5. Angel later intensified into a Polar Cyclone, becoming the second-earliest polar cyclone on record. Another pre-season storm, Polar Storm Bell, formed on October 16, which was the earliest second named storm in the basin. Hyperactivity has occurred since, with a total of 10 named storms and 9 polar cyclones already forming.
Storm formation can also occur outside of the designated dates. The most common time for storms to form, though, is from mid-to-late December.
Storms, even tropical cyclones, can cross from other basins into the Arctic basin. Should this happen, the storm would keep their original name. These types of storms are more common early in the season. The Arctic basin begins at 55 degrees north latitude, and this is where all storms are assigned an Arctic name.
Due to mixed reports on what conditions would exist in the Arctic Ocean, no predictions were issued for this season until late. The BNWC originally said that there was a near equal chance in a below-normal, near-normal, and above-normal season. Average activity in the basin has roughly 15 named storms, 8 polar cyclones, and 3 major cyclones, with roughly two to four storms making landfall in the north pole. However, on October 12, 2015, the BNWC announced their 2015-16 forecast of 18 named storms, 10 polar cyclones and 5 major cyclones, a slightly above-average season. Two more forecasts were released in mid-October: the FMC announced a prediction of 17.3 named storms, 7.8 polar cyclones and 3.0 major polar cyclones on October 17. Later, on October 18, the LJWC made their prediction of 15 named storms, 8 polar cyclones and 4 major polar cyclones. Several more weather centers continued to make season forecasts: the Hurricane Odile Weather Center, the Puffle Meteorological Center and the Collin D Meteorological Center all released forecasts in late October and early November, all forecasting an above-average season.
The BNWC later revised their original prediction on October 21 by predicting 20-24 named storms, 10-12 polar cyclones and 5-7 major cyclones, due to the early formation of Polar Cyclones Angel and Bell, which would be a near record-breaking season in activity.
If you still want to make a pre-season prediction, make it here!
The season had a very early start. On October 4, the first invest of the season formed, Invest 90N, and was first listed with 15 mph winds. The system then intensified into Polar Storm Angel on October 5. Angel later acquired hurricane-force winds on October 7, prompting an upgrade to Weak Polar Cyclone status. Angel acquired its peak intensity in the early morning hours on October 8 with winds of 90 mph. However, later that day, Angel was downgraded to a Polar Storm. Angel later became post-polar late on October 9. The storm completely dissipated on October 11. Invest 91N later developed in mid-October. On October 16, 91N developed into Polar Depression Two. Two was upgraded to Polar Storm Bell the next day, becoming the earliest second named storm in history. On October 20, Bell was upgraded to a polar cyclone, the second of the season. Early on October 22, Bell was upgraded to a major polar cyclone - the earliest in history. Bell later became a Catastrophic (category 5-equivalent) Polar Cyclone late that night, and acquired 175 mph winds the next day, which was the third strongest on record. Recent analysis suggests that Bell may not have been as strong as originally thought, though. Bell slightly weakened on October 24 to an Intense Polar Cyclone due to an eyewall replacement cycle and land interaction with Baffin Island. However, on October 26, Bell re-intensified, attaining its current peak intensity with winds of 180 mph and a minimum pressure of 899 mbar. Shortly after, Former Major Typhoon Champi became a Subpolar Depression and a Area of Low Pressure near San Josef land was classified as a Polar Depression, along with a area Southeast of the Aleutians becoming Polar Depression Four. Polar Depression Three developed into Polar Storm Candle on October 26 as well. Candle became post-polar the next day, and Polar Storm Donner formed. Donner later was upgraded to a polar cyclone on October 28, in addition to the quickly forming Polar Cyclone Eggnog. Subpolar Storm Fir also formed on October 28, continuing the period of hyperactivity. Also on October 28, Polar Cyclone was re-classified as a Moderate Polar Cyclone instead of Catastrophic. On October 29, Polar Storm Gingerbread formed, which later intensified into an Intense Polar Cyclone on October 31.
November started active with Polar Cyclones Holly, Icicle, Jolly and Kris all forming. Most were Moderate or Intense Polar Cyclones. However, activity hit a quiet period from November 12 through 22, due to a strong high pressure ridge developing near Greenland. On November 23, Subpolar Depression Fourteen developed off the coast of Maine. Fourteen was upgraded to Subpolar Storm Lantern on November 24. Lantern peaked at weak polar cyclone status, and was absorbed into the Polar Vortex on November 27.
Early in December, Polar Cyclone Merry developed and reached category 4-equivalent status. However, Merry was renamed Eva when it crossed into the Great Britain Windstorm Basin. Later in the month, Polar Cyclone Noel formed and became the first reliably measured Catastrophic Polar Cyclone of the season.
On October 4, the Bob Nekaro Weather Center began monitoring a small area of low pressure producing snow showers, located about 400 miles south of the North Pole, directly north of Canada. At their first advisory at 4PM EDT, the BNWC predicted that the disturbance would have a 0% chance of development within the next 48 hours and a 20% chance of development within the next 5 days. However, the storm rapidly intensified, and was given an 80% chance of development by 3PM on October 5. Later that afternoon, satellite imagery from a BNWC Cyclone Hunters aircraft found a closed circulation and named the storm Polar Storm Angel nearly four weeks before the season officially begins. Angel later strengthened on October 6, and acquired Polar Cyclone status on October 7 at 3:00 PM. However, wind shear later inhibited development of the storm, and later on October 7 it was determined that it was highly unlikely that Angel would make landfall or reach major cyclone status. Angel weakened to a Polar Storm on October 8. Angel experienced steady weakening over the next 24 hours, and became post-polar late on October 9.
On October 12, the BNWC began monitoring an area of low pressure that was expected to form over Canada, for possible polar cyclogenesis. On October 14, the area of low pressure formed and moved off the coast of Canada into the Hudson Bay. Due to wind shear, development was initially viewed as unlikely for the next week. However, the storm moved much slower than originally expected, and wind shear relaxed slightly. This led to the system being designated Polar Depression Two on October 16 at 5PM. At 5:00 PM on October 17, it was upgraded to Polar Storm Bell. Bell is currently active with winds of 155 mph and a minimum pressure of 928 mbar. On October 19, after originally being predicted to dissipate early in the week, Bell's track was changed due to a more favorable environment than previously expected. Bell was upgraded to a Moderate Polar Cyclone on October 21, and a Severe Polar Cyclone on October 22. At 11PM on October 22, Bell was upgraded to a Catastrophic Polar Cyclone with winds of 165 mph. Later on October 23, Bell attained 175 mph winds - just 10 below the all-time record, at the same time Hurricane Patricia became the first hurricane with 200 mph winds. Bell was expected to not intensify any more in the next several days due to an eyewall replacement cycle. Bell then made landfall in Baffin Island early on October 24, and weakened down to an Intense Polar Cyclone later that day. On October 25, Bell was upgraded back to a Catastrophic Polar Cyclone, and on October 26, Bell became the second-strongest polar cyclone in terms of pressure in history. Bell rapidly dissipated into a remnant low on October 27.
The remnants of Typhoon Champi crossed 55 degrees latitude, and the system was briefly designated Subpolar Depression Champi. By this point, Champi was very weak and had little convection remaining. On October 27, Champi dissipated without becoming fully polar.
The remnants of record-breaking Pacific Hurricane Patricia slowly moved into the United States. As it moved northward, the remnants of Patricia were merged into another extratropical cyclone. By October 27, the storm was monitored for possible polar cyclogenesis by the weekend. On October 28, the system was given a 80% chance of development. On October 29, the system was designated Subpolar Storm Gingerbread. Later that day, Gingerbread became fully polar. By early on October 30, Gingerbread had acquired Polar Cyclone status. Later that night, it is estimated that Gingerbread peaked with winds of 125 mph - making it the second major polar cyclone of the season. Gingerbread then rapidly weakened beginning on November 1. On November 2, Gingerbread weakened into a polar storm.
A polar low suddenly developed west of Alaska on November 3. The system was named Icicle, and it explosively intensified into an Intense Polar Cyclone on November 4 with 115 mph winds. Icicle peaked with winds of 125 mph and a pressure of 928 mbar.
A low pressure system moving northward that had caused moderate rains throughout the Eastern United States was monitored for possible polar or subpolar cyclogenesis as it quickly moved northeastward. On November 23, the BNWC designated the system Subpolar Depression Fourteen. The next day, Fourteen was upgraded to Subpolar Storm Lantern. Lantern became fully polar on November 25. Lantern later became a weak polar cyclone.