What is a bomb cyclone, and how will it affect the nor'easter?
According to old folklore, the month of March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb,” which means that weather in the first part of the month is unpredictable (and often unpleasant!), but makes way for mild, spring-like temps by the end. And if you’re on the East Coast today, March 2nd, you can relate. Because you’re likely already getting pummeled by a nor’easter. And even worse, experts say this storm could turn into a bomb cyclone, also called a “bombogenesis” — which honestly sounds…unpleasant.
But what the heck is a bomb cyclone, and how will it affect today’s nor’easter (that’s said to impact around 80 million people)?
We know that a nor’easter is a storm created by a surge of low pressure created by winds from the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in a mess for those in the storm’s path (typically in the Northeast coast, hence the name). And since they typically occur between September and April, a nor’easter can include heavy rain or snow, strong winds, coastal flooding, and rough seas, according to the Weather Channel, though they can happen at any time of year.
And the nor’easter currently affecting the East Coast has the potential to become a bomb cyclone, so it’s important to know what that means exactly.
According to The New York Times, it’s all about how far (and fast) the atmospheric pressure falls during a storm. And you guessed it, a bomb cyclone involves a strong and speedy drop in barometric pressure in the air. “Falling atmospheric pressure is a characteristic of all storms. By definition, the barometric pressure must drop by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours for a storm to be called a bomb cyclone; the formation of such a storm is called bombogenesis.”
With the nor’easter already bringing strong winds, heavy rain, coastal flooding, and snow to some parts of the Northeast, it seems meteorologists are bracing for a severe drop in pressure off the Atlantic coast by this evening, bringing the potential for the second bomb cyclone to hit the Northeast in 2018. The first was back in January.
This storm is particularly dangerous, with officials warning about coastal flooding, which CNN reports could impact affected areas for several days. “The storm is moving slowly, and the wind, rain and flood effects will linger for days.” Snowfall is likely to be heavy and wet, and hurricane-force winds will affect power lines. Staying indoors (or evacuating your area, depending on where you live) is the most important thing, as this slow moving storm will continue pummeling the area through at least Friday night.
Even if it doesn’t end up becoming a bomb cyclone, it’s one of the strongest nor’easters in recent history, so please stay safe!