'Bomb cyclone': What to know about this kind of monster storm

PHOTO: A car drives down a snowy road in Pittsfield, Mass., March 2, 2018. PlayBen Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP
WATCH What is a 'bomb cyclone'?

The massive nor’easter pummeling the East Coast has strengthened rapidly today, undergoing what's known as bombogenesis or "bombing out."

Interested in Weather?

Add Weather as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Weather news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

Dubbed a "bomb cyclone," the catchphrase was coined earlier this year as a nickname for another nor’easter back in early January.

Bombogenesis -- or a "bomb cyclone" -- occurs when the pressure of a storm drops 24 millibars in 24 hours, or at the rate of 1 millibar per hour. (A millibar is a measure of atmospheric pressure inside a storm, telling meteorologists how strong or weak the storm system is).

It usually happens when a storm system moves over the warm waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream at the same time that arctic air moves in from behind. The Northeast coast of the United States experiences this at least once a year.

The difference between the two air masses helps to strengthen the storm system, creating what's known as bombogenesis.

PHOTO: A car sits in high water on a flooded street during rain and high winds, March 2, 2018, in the Broad Channel section of Queens in New York. Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
A car sits in high water on a flooded street during rain and high winds, March 2, 2018, in the Broad Channel section of Queens in New York.

As a storm system moves over the Gulf Stream off the East Coast, it picks up all the available moisture and dumps it in the form of snow if there is enough cold air in place.

The lower the storm's pressure, the stronger the winds are around the storm. This week's strong winds could wreak havoc, bringing major power outages and coastal flooding for Northeast coastal cities.

Comments