Potential Bomb Cyclone Developing as Second Major Storm Bears Down on East Coast

by Clayton Edwards

Winter seems to have gotten a late start in several cities across the nation. Many locations saw record high temps on Christmas Day. However, now it almost seems like winter weather is playing catch-up in the eastern region of the United States. Earlier this week, a winter storm rolled over the East Coast. That system covered Washington DC, Buffalo, New York, and other cities in thick blankets of snow. Now, just as many residents are starting to recover, and while thousands are still without power, another storm is coming. The current winter storm has the potential to become the first bomb cyclone of the year.

That is probably the most frightening-sounding term in meteorology. So, what does it mean, and is it as scary as it sounds? Officially, these are storms that drop 24 millibars of pressure in 24 hours or less. When a storm gets stronger, its central barometric pressure drops. In short, bomb cyclones drop in pressure and get stronger more quickly than other storms.

What a Bomb Cyclone Means for the East Coast

According to Accuweather, this storm will dump more snow on Virginia. They’re already dealing with the snow from earlier this week that left motorists trapped on I-95 for up to 24 hours. Additionally, the storm will hit areas that didn’t get snow with the previous weather system. Later tonight, it has the potential to become a bomb cyclone as the storm’s cold front meets relatively warm air from the ocean.

Many regions will see a rapid drop in temperature before the potential bomb cyclone arrives. This means that ground temperatures will drop before the snow starts falling. As a result, many areas will see higher-than-normal amounts of accumulation. In areas already blanketed with the white stuff, drifts will continue to grow.

In Virginia, thousands of residents are still without power after Monday’s storm. About the severe weather, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said, “These back-to-back storms will generate landmark winter weather that requires extra flexibility, particularly as many continue to deal with power outages.” Northam already declared a state of emergency.

Earlier today, Nashville and other parts of Middle Tennessee saw snowfall of up to 2 inches per hour. Later today, East Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and other Southern states are expecting more snow. This will probably come as the storm strengthens later this afternoon into the early evening hours.

If the storm becomes a bomb cyclone, it could drop massive amounts of snow in the upper parts of New England. Boston is expecting 8 inches. Other parts of Massachusetts as well as Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut could get up to a foot of snow by the end of the night.

In short, a bomb cyclone could mean disruptive snowfall and low temperatures for most of the country’s East Coast.