Bomb Cyclones

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 29, 2022, 7:08

Bomb Cyclones is a midlatitude storm that is intense and large, with a low pressure formed at its centre. Explosive cyclogenesis, also known by different names like meteorological bomb, weather bomb, or Bomb Cyclone, is caused due to the rapid deepening of the extratropical cyclonic low-pressure area.

The Reason Behind the Naming

In the 1940s and 1950s, Bergen School of Meteorology-based meteorologists first started to use the term bomb to be associated with storms that developed over the sea regions to describe the ferocious nature of the storm. But it was only in the 1980s professor Fred Sanders and his colleague John Gyakum used the term bomb to define these types of extratropical cyclones.

The term ‘bomb was included to indicate the explosive nature of the storm due to rapidly falling pressure. As it gives rise to sudden severe weather conditions, like the sudden going off of a bomb, the term is used to define its characteristics.

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Important facts about Bomb Cyclone

  • Bomb Cyclones are formed when the air close to the surface of the Earth rises quickly in the atmosphere, causing a sudden barometric pressure fall. The drop in the barometric pressure can be as much as 24 millibars within 24 hours. However, it is important to mention that the criteria for millibar requirement for the formation of this type of cyclone are also dependent on the latitude along which it is formed. Bomb Cyclone can be explained as a severe weather condition that is caused due to the rapid decline in pressure and extreme winter conditions.
  • As is seen with Bomb Cyclones, air rising upwards causes the formation of wind spirals at the base of the storms. As long as the air rises to the top of the storm, and is replaced at the base, the storm will retain the barometric pressure.
  • The cyclone’s strength depends on the nature of the terrain. It strengthens with severe cold weather. But if there is not enough moisture in the air and the temperature gets warm, it tends to lose its strength.
  • The storms also gain in power depending on proximity to the ocean or other large water bodies.

Along the Northwest Pacific, the North Atlantic, the Southwest Pacific, and the South Atlantic, the occurrence of Bomb Cyclones are known to be the most common. The term generally indicates intensified winter storms and is commonly used in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Scandinavian countries.

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FAQs on Bomb Cyclones

Q.1 Are Bomb Cyclones common?

The answer will vary depending on the location. Like, in the Pacific Ocean region, this powerful weather phenomenon is fairly common. But if you check the Atlantic coastline, the occurrence of incidents are limited.

Q.2 Is the Bomb Cyclone similar to a hurricane?

Yes, Bomb Cyclone is different from hurricanes. Sometimes they may have the characteristic that makes them look like hurricanes, as pointed out by climate scientist Daniel Swain of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Q.3 What is the Effect of a Bomb Cyclone?

Some of the known effects of Bomb Cyclones as having been seen in the past are flooding, blizzard, and extremely severe winter conditions hampering normal ways of life.

Q.4 When did the last Bomb Cyclone occur, and where?

In a very recent event of a Bomb Cyclone on the 29th of January 2022, the eastern US was badly affected, facing power outages and traffic chaos. Major cities where normal life was brought to a halt due to the extreme cold conditions with blizzards and snowfall occurring in several parts were New York, Boston, Florida.