Although it may not look like that, a “bomb cyclone” is a legit scientific term, so named because the rapid formation of the storm is like a bomb going off.
Millions of Americans have been warned of prepare for a bomb cyclone with blizzard conditions, wind chills and temperatures as low as -45.6 C (-50.1 F) – cold enough to have frostbite in less than five minutes.
A bomb cyclone or “weather bomb” is a term used to describe a rapidly deepening area of low pressure.
“More properly this should be called explosive cyclogenesis, which is when the central pressure of a low-pressure system drops dramatically – by 24 millibars in 24 hours,” the Sky News weather presenter said. , Kirsty McCabe.
“These intense storms are bringing heavy precipitation and very strong winds. In the United States right now, very cold arctic air is being sucked in, with the freezing weather bringing further complications.”
How does a bomb cyclone form?
The sudden change in pressure is due to interactions with a powerful jet stream, McCabe said.
“It’s the fast-moving ribbon of air high in the atmosphere that steers our low-pressure surface systems.
“The contrast between cold arctic air to the north and warm tropical air to the south strengthened the jet stream, which in turn deepened the low pressure area.”
Why is it called a bomb cyclone?
Meteorologists likened the sudden drop in pressure to the explosion of a bomb, using words such as “explosive cyclogenesis” and “bombogenesis” to describe the storm’s formation process.
The term refers specifically to how quickly a storm forms, said Daniel Swain, a climatologist at the University of California.
“It doesn’t necessarily refer to the absolute strength of the storm system,” he said.
Does the UK get bomb cyclones?
The UK has experienced weather bombs, including the Great Storm of 1987.
How does a bomb cyclone differ from a hurricane?
“Not all bomb cyclones are hurricanes,” Mr. Swain said. “But sometimes they can take on characteristics that make them look very hurricane-like, with very strong winds, heavy rainfall and well-defined eye-like features in the middle.”
Hurricanes tend to form in tropical areas and are fed by warm seas. For this reason, they are most common in the United States in the summer or early fall, when seawater is warmest.
In contrast, bomb cyclones do not need fresh ocean waters to form.
They can appear on land or at sea and are most common between late fall and early spring, when warm tropical air collides with freezing arctic air.
“They have to happen at a time of year when there’s a possibility of hot and cold air at the same time,” Swain said. It is the temperature difference that drives the pressure drop.
Are bomb cyclones dangerous?
It depends. Sometimes bomb cyclones behave like conventional winter storms.
But sometimes they produce heavy flooding, blizzard conditions, and wind speeds comparable to a Category 1 hurricane.
“Fundamentally, the impacts of a bomb cyclone are not necessarily different from those of other strong storm systems, except the rapid strengthening is usually the signature of a very strong storm system,” Mr. Swain.
Much of the danger lies in the fact that bomb cyclones can surprise people, he added.