What exactly is the “bomb cyclone ” that threatens chaos and destruction as it passes through the east coast of the United States

During the next few days, it is very possible that you will hear the term “bomb cyclone ” with which the last major storm that threatens the east coast of the United States has been defined. Chilling temperatures are expected for an event that many are unaware of. Why “bomb” and what can you expect?

The storm is currently off the coast of Florida and Georgia, and will make its way to the coast on Thursday. New York City and Philadelphia are under a winter weather warning starting at 1 am today, while Boston is under a snow storm warning that begins at the same time.

It is expected that the snowfall will be able to stop traffic and air travel in a few hours, although the biggest problem is that temperatures below zero will begin to fall extremely during the storm. The circulation associated with the storm will drag the icy air that will settle over the southern Canadian Arctic, bringing down temperatures in the northeast progressively.

In addition, the enormous circulation of the storm will help to attract several lobes of the polar vortex, the zone of icy air winding through the North Pole, over the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast for Friday and Saturday. The tremendous cold air coming from Siberia, the North Pole and Greenland will converge in the region.

Temperatures are predicted between 20 and 40 degrees below normal, the coldest (by far) of winter. It is predicted that most locations in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast will set record cold temperatures tomorrow Friday, with highs in single digits.

On Saturday morning, a freezing cold is forecast in almost all of New England, with a single digit in the Mid-Atlantic. The winds, which gust at 48 km / h, will make these areas feel 10 to 20 degrees colder.

Finally, after one of the most intense cold episodes recorded in parts of New England, including Boston, temperatures are predicted to thaw gradually early next week.

For all this, many scientists talk about an event that could win a place in the record books. Why is it called “climatic bomb” or “cyclone bomb”?

The origin of the “bomb cyclone”

Cyclone pump of 2014. NASA
Cyclone pump of 2014. NASA

There are several incendiary names for these types of storms: bombs, meteorological bombs, or even sea bombs. The term “meteorological bomb” was added for the first time to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015 as a secondary entrance. Unlike other dramatic climate words, the meteorological bomb has received a technical definition.

Its modern use begins with an article published in 1980, in the Monthly Weather Review , on the “Dynamic Synoptic Climatology of the ‘Bomb'”. In the document, two MIT meteorologists defined a “bomb” as a storm where the central pressure drops dramatically in less than 24 hours. The researchers were interested in this phenomenon because of its ” great practical importance for maritime transport and coastal regions “.

Cyclone bomb of the 2013 in the Pacific. NOAA
Cyclone bomb of the 2013 in the Pacific. NOAA

However, the origin of the term goes back further, to the 1940s and the Meteorology School of Bergen, Norway. Back then, a sea “bomb” had no formal definition, but meteorologists used it to refer to destructive marine storms. At that time, the threat to ships, crucial to creating a strategic advantage in World War II, was usually man-made bombs. Seen this way, it is easy to imagine how the metaphor of a “sea pump” would have jumped to mind.

Although attention to the impending cyclone might indicate otherwise, these storms, although dangerous, are not so rare. They come very fast, destroy everything in their path, and disappear.

Be that as it may, when people hear bombs in their minds, these violent storms acquire an air of greater importance and threat, be it in the 1940s, or at present. And yes, the bomb that is approaching the east coast is a great threat, no doubt, but the way we talk about it makes it much more terrifying. [ Washington Post , Mashable , USAToday ]

About the author


Mark Furgison

Mark has over six years experience as a teacher, ecologist, zoologist and botanist. She has a B.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University Graduate School. His professional expertise in environmental health empacts has been recognized since 1973, when she testified at a New York DEC public hearing in Utica on ground truthing aerial photo wetland mapping by wetland community type. He taught (HS) Physics, Geology, Oceanography, Chemistry and photography from 1970-1980 at Palfrey Street School, Watertown, MA. Aproject: National Cooperative Highway Research Program.

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