Weather terminology can be a bit scary at times. Terms like “arctic blast” and “typhoon” create some disturbing mental images. But as East Coast residents in the United States prepare for winter storm Grayson this week—the National Weather Service says the storm will bring strong, damaging winds and snow—they are hearing a new term and it might be the most terrifying of all: “Bomb Cyclone.”
Even in the often-hyperbolic field of weather prediction, that’s an eye-catching name, but what is a bomb cyclone? And how bad will it be if you’re in it’s path?
The answer, as with so many things when it comes to winter weather, is: It depends. A bomb cyclone is, essentially, a powerful low-pressure system that rapidly intensifies. If that sounds a lot like a hurricane, you’re not too far off. 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.