What Is a Bomb Cyclone?

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The phrase bomb cyclone has re-entered the news this week as parts of the central U.S. face severe weather. Mountain and Midwestern states, including Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota, all fall in the path of a winter storm expected to deliver tornadoes, hail, heavy snow, flooding, and hurricane-force winds on Wednesday, March 13 into Thursday. It seems appropriate for a storm that strong to have bomb in its name, but the word actually refers to a meteorological phenomenon and not the cyclone's explosive intensity.

According to The Denver Post, the bomb in bomb cyclone stands for bombogenesis. Bombogenesis occurs when a non-tropical storm experiences at least a 24 millibar (the unit used to measure barometric pressure) drop within 24 hours. Low pressure makes for intense storms, so a bomb cyclone is a system that's built up a significant amount strength in a short length of time.

This type of storm usually depends on the ocean or another large body of water for its power. During the winter, the relatively warm air coming off the ocean and the cold air above land can collide to create a sharp drop in atmospheric pressure. Also known as a winter hurricane, this effect has produced some of the worst snowstorms to ever hit the U.S.

The fact that this latest bomb cyclone has formed nowhere near the coast makes it even more remarkable. Rather, a warm, subtropical air mass and a cold, Arctic air mass crossed paths, creating the perfect conditions for a rare bombogenesis over the Rockies and Great Plains states.

Central U.S. residents in the bomb cyclone's path have taken great precautions ahead of the storm. Over 1000 flights have been canceled for Wednesday and schools throughout Colorado have closed.

[h/t The Denver Post]

Watch a Rare ‘Ice Tsunami’ Slam Lake Erie

Clean Lakes Alliance, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Clean Lakes Alliance, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A combination of freezing cold temperatures and high winds is creating an unusual phenomenon along Lake Erie. As KDKA reports, ice tsunamis are toppling onto lake shores, and many locals have been asked to stay inside and even evacuate their homes.

On February 24, 2019, the National Weather Service in Buffalo, New York issued a warning about dangerous wind gusts in the Lake Erie area. The service urged citizens to seek shelter indoors and avoid traveling if possible. Winds peaked at 74 mph earlier this week, the level of a Category 1 hurricane, and tore down trees and power lines throughout the region.

People who got close to Lake Erie during the windstorm witnessed a rare event known as an ice tsunami. When wind pushed ice on the lake's surface toward the retaining wall, the sheet broke apart and dumped massive ice chunks on the shore. The video below captures the phenomenon.

In some areas, the ice piles grew so large that roadways had to be closed. Residents of Hamburg, New York's Hoover Beach area were asked to voluntarily evacuate due to the encroaching ice.

Ice tsunamis, or ice shoves, are rare, but in some cases they can be life-threatening. In 2013, waves of ice shards from a Minnesota lake destroyed people's homes.

[h/t KDKA]

It’s 68.5°F in Wales Right Now—Making it the Hottest February Day Ever Recorded in UK History

iStock.com/travellinglight
iStock.com/travellinglight

Forget the Bahamas. If you’re pining for sunny climes this winter, head to Wales. As The Telegraph reports, a town near the country’s western coast saw temperatures of 68.5°F today, making it the hottest February day on record in the UK. Put differently, Wales is hotter than both Algeria and Athens, Greece right now—and it’s expected to stay that way until the end of this week.

The record was previously held by Greenwich, England, where temperatures topped 67.4°F in 1998. Meteorologists first started keeping track of the weather in 1910, but no February has been quite as balmy as the weather currently seen in the Welsh county of Ceredigion, which is located about 80 miles northwest of the capital city, Cardiff.

It’s also quite the drastic change from last year, which heralded the “Beast from the East”—a period of sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall that blanketed much of the UK and Ireland. This February, instead of icicles and snowmen, people have reported seeing butterflies and bumblebees.

According to the BBC Weather Center, it’s difficult to say whether any given weather event is the result of climate change. However, it can be attributed—at least in part—to the warm air flowing in from Africa and the Canary Islands. The region is also experiencing the foehn effect (known as Chinook wind in North America) which occurs when air warms up as it travels down from the mountains.

It’s too early to tell if this summer will be unusually hot in the UK, but some locals aren’t taking any chances. Gardening expert Monty Don told The Telegraph that gardeners should “start storing rainwater now” in case the warm weather takes a toll on vegetation. For now, though, people are out enjoying the unseasonal warmth and sunshine while they can get it.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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