HomeEnglish NewsTop News StoriesWhat is Bomb Cyclone, the Once-in-a-Generation Storm to Hit US?

What is Bomb Cyclone, the Once-in-a-Generation Storm to Hit US?

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Most Americans have been warned to brace for record freezing temperatures, very heavy snowfall, strong winds and upended travel plans as the ‘bomb cyclone’ approaches a large swath of the country.

The weather phenomenon is called a ‘bomb cyclone’ because when it hits the barometric pressure witnesses a ‘rapid drop’ in a short period of time.

These storms can cause destruction to lives and property if it moves through heavily populated areas. It leads to heavy snowfall and blizzard-like winds.

A Wall Street Journal report, which cited a 2021 study, between 1979 and 2019, said that only 7% of the winter storms that developed in North America were bomb cyclones.

Bomb cyclones develop mostly during winters over the ocean or off the coast. It forms in the temperate latitudes and strengthens fast.

While it develops, the atmospheric pressure at its centre keeps dropping swiftly. This process, according to the Wall Street Journal report, is called “bombogenesis.”

Wind speeds go through “an explosive intensification,” an expert speaking to the news outlet said.

The powerful storm will sweep to two-thirds of the United States, from Montana to the East Coast.

These areas will experience dangerous temperatures reaching 30° below normal.

At least 60 million Americans received winter storm warnings Thursday morning, the US National Weather Service said.

The National Weather Service said: “This will not be your average cold front as temperatures could drop 20 or more degrees within a few hours,”

US President Joe Biden said: “This is not like a snow day, when you were a kid, this is serious stuff.”

Temperatures dropped fast as the Arctic front moved towards the east coast.

It meant life-threatening wind chill. The WSJ report said that these high winds combined with snow created whiteout conditions.

A front is a weather system which is a transition zone between two different air masses at the Earth’s surface, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

The Arctic front, according to the CIRA Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch, is a weather system that separates the cold polar air mass from the even colder air mass of arctic origin.

Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma have declared states of emergency ahead of the front’s arrival.

Maryland and Missouri have activated emergency response operations, the WSJ said. Snow emergencies were declared in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

Hundreds of flights scheduled to take off on Thursday and Friday stand cancelled. Road and rail closures were announced, and people were asked to stay indoors.

The bomb cyclone is a different weather condition when compared to nor’easters.

The nor’easters are storms which develop along the eastern coast of North America and over continental US and Canada. It meets that balmy ocean air over the Atlantic which has been warmed by the Gulf Stream current.

A ripe nor’easter storm forms due to the temperature difference between the warm ocean air and chilly land winds, states the National Weather Service.

These bomb cyclones forming off the North American coast are a form of nor’easter storm that forms rapidly.

It is characterised by quickly developing low-pressure centres.

John Gyakum, a meteorologist at McGill University said the term ‘bomb cyclone’ was first used in 1980 and it was described as a winter storm that dropped pressure quickly, as much as 24 millibars of pressure in 24 hours.

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