Anyone who thought that 2018 would be a calmer year than 2017 has another thing coming. Just a few days into January, the East Coast is expecting a winter storm that meteorologists are calling a "bomb cyclone." What is a bomb cyclone, and is it as horrifyingly apocalyptic as it sounds? USA Today called it "basically a winter hurricane," and many meteorologists are predicting that it could unleash intense winds along with significant snowfall. That means it might be time to run out to the grocery store and stock up on food essentials, stat.
The official meteorological term for the phenomenon is bombogenesis. According to the National Ocean Service, bombogenesis happens when a midlatitude cyclone "rapidly intensifies," as the atmospheric pressure quickly drops. According to the National Ocean Service website, "This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters." All that collision leads to intense winds and, when combined with freezing cold temperatures, the potential for a whole lot of snow.
According to Fortune, there's a reason the name sounds so scary:
The ‘bomb’ part of the name refers to the phenomenon when the pressure inside a storm cell falls so quickly that it gives the storm explosive strength.
Yikes. Still, there's good news about this particular bomb cyclone. The most extreme conditions are likely to remain out over the ocean, according to The Washington Post.
Even though the worst of the storm may remain out at sea, many people living on the East Coast are in for some nasty weather over the next few days. National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Hurley told The Associated Press that coastal New England could get "blizzard-like conditions," and perhaps up to a foot of snow. But this bomb cyclone won't just affect those in areas that are used to heavy snowfall. Even places far down the coast are bracing for impact. On Wednesday, snow began to fall in Southern Georgia, and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that he'd be declaring a state of emergency to deal with the winter storm, according to CNN.
In Tallahassee, Florida, kids made snow angels on the trampoline in their backyard:
Their father, Kyle Smith, told CNN that they had never seen snow before, so at least there is one adorable thing to come out of the bomb cyclone.
Ultimately, though, this weather event has the potential to cause some serious damage. Certain meteorologists, like Ryan Maue from Weather.us, are predicting that the pressure could get as low as that of Hurricane Sandy:
And Greg Postel, a hurricane and storm expert at The Weather Channel, tweeted about the storm simulations, writing, "I can't think of any extratropical cyclone in recent times at that magnitude off the East Coast...?" although he did finish off the tweet with a slightly-calmer, "Of course it may not get there, but still."
All of that means that, if possible, it's best to play it safe over these next few days if you're living in any of the areas likely to be affected by the bomb cyclone. And remember, the East Coast isn't just dealing with potentially heavy wind and precipitation. Already, the temperatures have been far below freezing, and meteorologists are predicting that this intense cold snap will continue, with another Arctic blast preparing to make its way over the border from Canada to ruin any plans you had of possibly enjoying being outside.
So get yourself some bottled water, food, and hey, maybe a bottle of wine or two. And keep in mind that while the weather may be annoying for those of us with the proper shelter and tons of blankets, it can be dangerous and even deadly for those without. There are plenty of ways to help the homeless as you brace for the bomb cyclone ahead.
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