Read More: Popular Science
Bomb cyclone: it sounds really cool, it’s actually kind of scary, and it’s headed your way. On Wednesday and Thursday, the intimidatingly-named winter storm is set to hit the East Coast with icy precipitation from Florida up into New England. But a name as apocalyptic as bomb cyclone begs explanation. How bad will this storm be, exactly? I mean, “bomb” is generally a qualifier you want attached to something like “frostings,” not “cyclone.” The phrase doesn’t refer to the storm itself. (The storm’s name is Grayson and you will refer to him as such.) Instead, 'bomb cyclone' refers to a phenomenon expected to occur as this weather event unfolds. The official term is explosive cyclogenesis, or bombogenesis which—in addition to being my new favorite word—is actually really common. The 'bombing' occurs when a low pressure system’s central pressure falls 24 millibars in 24 hours or less. Say what now? Don't worry, we'll break it down. First off, what's a low pressure system? This is a region where the pressure of the atmosphere at sea level is lower than the surrounding area. As winds converge in the area, they rotate in the same direction as the Earth and can form a cyclone in the center of the region. The circulation within the system makes air move up higher into the atmosphere, where moisture in the air condenses and forms precipitation.