You may have heard of a blizzard. You may have heard of a hurricane. But have you heard of a bomb cyclone?
US meteorologists are getting used to calling these massive storms “bombogensis”. So far this year, there have been eight in the United States alone.
Has there ever been a bomb cyclone?
It’s actually a bit of a misnomer. A bomb cyclone really is just a full-blown winter storm.
What makes a bomb cyclone?
The original usage was to refer to what many meteorologists thought the most powerful storm to hit the US in 2017. It was named “Bombogenesis”, based on the fact that it was a fast-moving storm.
By February 13, the storm’s centre was located near Caribou, Maine. In the next days, the dangerous storm was on its way to track over Canada and even into the United Kingdom.
It’s still not on track to be a hurricane. In fact, when it made landfall in Maine as a blizzard, it wasn’t much of a blizzard.
But it did hit what is now called the “bomb cyclone” moniker. It’s what meteorologists still say makes a bomb.
What about hurricanes?
Hurricanes are storms whose centre hits land at more than 28miles per hour (49km/h). When it’s called a hurricane, it’s a category 3 hurricane.
A hurricane is actually defined as a system with a structure that carries winds of 131mph (218km/h) or higher at its centre, the National Hurricane Center says.
Even these naming conventions can evolve over time. For example, the centre of a hurricane is the most intense part of the storm and the eye is the point where the winds are strongest, but as a hurricane moves over the warm water the process changes.
A tropical storm or a category 1 hurricane is when the winds exceed 45mph (72km/h) at its centre.
Category 2 and 3 hurricanes have winds of 111mph (178km/h) or higher.
Hurricane Katrina hit land as a category 3 storm. It is considered the most destructive hurricane in US history.
It formed in the Atlantic Ocean and quickly developed with winds of 140mph (225km/h) when it entered the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall in New Orleans on 30 August 2005 as a Category 3 storm. It killed more than 1,800 people.
What does “bombogenesis” mean?
In October 2017, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane and tropical storm status update that could eventually be used to name future storms. According to its report, a storm had to be classified as “tropical cyclone” for it to count under this definition.
Only “boom” storms made the cut. This meant that the center of the storm had to hit land at a speed of 26 miles (42km) per hour or faster.
What’s this got to do with a bomb?
In 2018, a hurricane is now called a bomb cyclone. We don’t know yet if a bomb cyclone will be used to name future storms or not.
Topics: storm-event, weather, disasters-and-accidents, cyclones, offbeat, united-states