What is a bomb cyclone?
NEW YORK - A storm over the next few days will hit the coastal United States from Georgia to Maine it what could be described as a winter hurricane as it hits New England with strong winds and blizzard conditions.
It is described as a "bomb cyclone” because its pressure is predicted to fall so fast, an indicator of explosive strengthening of the storm.
Weather novices, hobbyists, and experts expressed similar sentiments Tuesday to the prospect of a so-called bomb cyclone forming off the eastern seaboard of the United States.
"Yeah, so it's a meteorological term," Earther.com senior reporter Brian Kahn said via Skype. "It comes from the term bombogenesis and that is basically the definition for any storm that drops 24 millibars of pressure over 24 hours."
And if you didn't think 2018 would see you wondering about, watching, and discussing millibars of pressure, that shows how little we can predict in life. But bombogenesis Nor'easters apparently happen most winters. What makes this storm potentially different is how far below that minimum bomb pressure level change it might drop.
"We could see pressure levels that reach down to the levels we saw during Hurricane Sandy," said Kahn, who is also a climate lecturer at Columbia University. He emphasized that this means we could see tropical storm-strength and maybe hurricane-strength winds in the New York area Thursday and not that we might expect this storm to inflict Sandy-level carnage.
As all monitor various weather models to see likely-too-early projections as to where this storm might hit, Kahn said that the system shifting even 10 miles one way or the other could mean a big difference in snowfall totals.
Kahn said that a more problematic weather event may follow, regardless of how many inches of snow this storm leaves behind.
"We're talking single-digit temperatures, subzero wind chills, and really uncomfortable weather for days afterwards," he said.
The cold this weekend appears a certainty. The track of the storm leading into it, as of Tuesday evening, is still a lot of educated guesswork. But Kahn expected bombogenesis somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean at some time in the days ahead.
"Now we're pretty sure that yes, it is going to happen," he said.