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2nd massive storm in two weeks hits North Atlantic and Western Europe

Winter storm whips up strong winds
Winter storm whips up strong winds, disrupting travel 01:07

One of the strongest storms in modern history is pummeling the North Atlantic and western Europe with massive waves and hurricane force winds. The system's name is Dennis and it comes less than a week after storm Ciara helped power a British Airways flight to a new trans-Atlantic speed record over 800 mph.

Dennis is massive, spanning more than 3,000 miles in width from eastern Canada to Scandinavia. The behemoth's pressure dropped to 920 millibars near Iceland this weekend, on par with the most intense hurricanes including Hurricane Maria in 2017 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The lower the millibars — a measure of atmospheric pressure — the stronger the storm, and Dennis' barometric pressure is just 7 millibars short of the record-strongest North Atlantic non-tropical storm from 1993.

Storm Dennis will create another quick-moving jet stream one week after several flights broke transatlantic flight time records thanks to a boost from a storm-enhanced jet stream. CBS News

On Friday and Saturday, wind gusts in Iceland reached well over hurricane force, clocking in at an astounding 256 km/hr, or 159 mph.

The storm has since weakened, but is still raking Scotland and Ireland with gusts up to 75 mph along with torrential rains and intense street flooding.

All weekend, average wave heights in the North Atlantic ranged from 40 to 60 feet, with rogue waves easily topping 100 feet.

A chart showing wave heights resulting from storm Dennis. CBS News

A relentless onslaught of foamy surf turned streets in Northern France into bubble baths.

The storm system has been stalled over the North Atlantic for the past couple of weeks. It is part of a massive parent vortex traveling along the jet stream and feeding itself by swallowing smaller systems. This constant supply of energy, and sprawling circulation, has powered a few near-record-setting jet streams.

A map showing the path of the storm-enhanced jet stream. CBS News

The upper-level jet stream winds have reached 270 mph, providing a super charged tail-wind for flights traveling eastward. For the second weekend in a row, flights from the U.S. to Europe have clocked speeds of over 800 mph, reaching their destinations more than an hour early.

Stormy weather will continue through Tuesday with Dennis gradually winding down by midweek.

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