The Publisher's Desk: The 'bomb cyclone'

Does anyone else think the name “bomb cyclone” was kind of a ridiculous name? 

Who comes up with these names?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand this is a serious storm for a lot of people. Seventeen people had died as of Jan. 4. Florida was expecting record snow. 

In Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, it hasn’t been this cold since the late 1800s. 

This is record-breaking weather.

This is serious stuff. 

It’s also not that uncommon. 

Meteorologists tell us that while most people aren’t familiar with the name bomb cyclone, the weather pattern is fairly normal. 

“Jet streams” bring cold, dry air from Canada and collides with warm, moist air from the Southern coast, NPR reports. 

This creates energy and a decline in air pressure. 

It’s called a bomb by TV meteorologists because of the rapid drop in air pressure, apparently.

It’s technically called a baroclinic midlatitude cyclone.  

It’s going to produce a lot of wind and a lot of, well, snow. 

Aren’t you glad we don’t live on the East Coast? 

I know I sure am. 

It will also lower temperatures well below freezing and possibly below zero. 

We saw a lot of lower-than-zero temperatures in North Dakota, but that state is used to frigid temperatures. Some of these southern states are not going to have the infrastructure and implements in place to manage temperatures that low for very long. 

I asked a meteorologist friend of mind about this term “bomb cyclone.” 

He scoffed a little bit, too. 

He compared it to the “polar vortex” that TV meteorologists and social media dubbed a storm from a couple years ago. The phenomena — much like the bomb cyclone — is relatively common and has been around for as long as meteorologists have been studying the weather (and longer, of course). 

But the names are a result of our social media “viral” culture. 

He described this kind of storm as a kind of anti-hurricane. 

Hurricanes, he said, are caused by warm ocean water. Nor’Easters, as these storms are sometimes called, are caused by arctic air mixing with warm air from the coast. 

An icy, land hurricane, of sorts. 

As for “bomb cyclone,” he said the name comes from “bombogenesis,” a meteorological term that has been used for decades. 

The term describes a type of cyclone that’s center pressure is lower than 24 millibars over 24 hours.

Don’t ask me what a millibar is — I have no idea. 

He also said that this particular storm’s center pressure dropped nearly 60 millibars over 24 hours, making it 2.5 times greater than needed to be classified as bombogenesis. 

“It’s a beast of a storm,” he said. 

Scott Dykowski is the publisher of the Dublin Citizen and can be reached at 445-2515 and publisher@dublincitizen.com.

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