Storm Approaching California is a ‘Bomb Cyclone.’ Here’s What That Means.

Northern California is in for a rare weather event following what has already been a historic winter season. This specific storm likely won’t drop 10 feet of snow on the mountains or create flood issues in the valley. The storm, which is forecast to hit Tuesday through Wednesday, has been classified as a bombogenisis or “bomb cyclone,” meaning we’re in for a wild ride.

We hear about “atmospheric rivers” in the Pacific Ocean all the time, but rarely a “bomb cyclone” or “bombogenesis.” So what the heck is a bomb cyclone? Here is a definition from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Bombogenesis, a popular term used by meteorologists, occurs when a midlatitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone.

In layman’s terms, a bombogenesis is a rapidly intensifying weather system of low pressure that occurs when cold air collides with warm air over the ocean, which strengthens the system. While the weather phenomenon isn’t rare, it’s also something that isn’t seen in this area regularly.

According to the NOAA, fourteen of 20 hurricane-force wind events underwent bombogenesis in the North Atlantic during the first two months of 2014. To be classified as a weather bomb, or having undergone bombogenesis or “bombing out,” the central pressure of a low-pressure system must drop at least 24 millibars within 24 hours.

So what does this mean for California? For this storm in particular, we’re going to see some heavy winds throughout the region, with up to 50 mph gusts seen in the Bay Area. This is sure to cause some downed trees and power outages throughout NorCal.

For the first time this year, it seems like this storm won’t be bad for flooding and hefty snowfall, but it will be intense. Stay safe out there.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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