What is a bomb cyclone? What you need to know about the weather phenomenon

ONE strong winter storm is forecast to hit most of the US with freezing temperatures and heavy snow this week, grunts of holiday travel plans and urging warnings from officials to remain vigilant. For millions of Americans in its path, the storm could intensify: The storm is likely to develop into a bomb cyclone or bombogenesis

Whenever the weather phenomenon known as a bomb cyclone is mentioned by meteorologists, Google searches for the phrase start to spike — and we’re seeing the same trend this week.

Well, here is a brief breakdown of everything you need to know about it.

What is a bomb cyclone?

A bomb cyclone is a popular term for a rapidly developing storm that occurs when atmospheric pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in a 24-hour period, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes online.

“A bomb cyclone occurs when the atmospheric pressure at the center of the cyclone drops rapidly. To be approximately right, the pressure must drop about 1 [millibar]or more, every hour in a 24-hour period,” John Moore, a public affairs specialist and meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told CBS News.

“This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters,” explains NOAA.

What are the effects of a bomb cyclone?

The area of ​​high pressure can produce strong winds, blizzard conditions (heavy snow that can potentially reduce visibility) and rainfall, according to the agency. Heavy precipitation (rain and snow) may also cause coastal flooding in some affected areas.

“There may also be sharp temperature drops along the frontal boundary associated with some bomb cyclones. There may also be thunderstorms along the frontal boundary in the warm sector of the storm,” Moore said of other weather events often associated with a bomb cyclone.


What is a “bomb cyclone?”

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When do bomb cyclones most often occur?

While bomb cyclones can occur at any time of the year, they tend to be reported more often in the winter months. They are most common from December to early March, according to a 2017 study from the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology that analyzed patterns of bomb cyclones in the North Pacific Ocean from 2000 to 2015.

Moore says the same is true today.

“Bomb cyclones often occur more during the cold season,” he agreed.

How to prepare for a bomb cyclone

Whenever a storm is predicted to hit your area, you should make sure you are prepared.

Stay updated on the weather forecast for your area, as the risks of a bomb cyclone can vary by location, stock up on emergency supplies and make sure your home is protected.

“If you are expecting impacts similar to a winter storm, prepare accordingly. If you live near a coastal area, coastal flooding could have an impact. Heavy rainfall associated with a bomb cyclone could also cause flooding, so those living in areas that are prone to flooding should be on alert,” Moore said.

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