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Bombo-What?? and Other Strange Weather Words You Might Hear This Winter

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, January 05, 2018

Thursday's Storm Grayson near Boston's Faneuil Hall 

Thursday, storm Grayson hit the United States, blanketing Massachusetts in over 12 inches of snow, and raising high tides by almost 5 inches -  levels comparable to those during the infamous blizzard of ’78. If you are currently in the Boston area, you most likely had your commute or school schedule interrupted by Grayson. If you live near the Seaport area, perhaps you noticed flooding. If you listened to news coverage of the storm you may have heard meteorologists use terms like “bomb cyclone” or “bombogenesis” to describe the weather activity we are experiencing.

But what exactly is a “bombogenesis”? No, this ominous-sounding word is not something out of a science fiction novel, but is actually a real weather term first coined by a professor at MIT. A bombogenesis aka a bomb cyclone or weather bomb refers to the weather that occurs when atmospheric pressure drops at least 24 millibars over 2 hours. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it can happen when warm air and cold air meet. Massachusetts experienced a bomb cyclone because the cold air of the past few weeks combined with a relatively warmer and low- pressure air that had been moving up the coast.

Strom Grayson floods beach towns on the South Shore 

Storm Grayson acted “bomb-like” in the sense that the storm occurred almost instantly, rather than gradually. During storm Grayson, the “bomb” went off over the ocean, which then caused storms on the mainland.

Bombogenesis isn’t the only strange word we’ve heard recently to describe crazy New England weather. If you’ll recall, meteorologists deemed the snowstorm we had in early December as “thundersnow” – a winter thunderstorm where snow falls instead of rain. You might have also seen "Arctic Blast" being used in headlines to describe the extreme cold front we have been enduring. Today's 14-degree weather is a result of cold air moving from the Arctic. Stepped outside this morning? You probably noticed "Hoarfrost" - the icy frost lining trees, your car windshield, and other things when the temperature is cold and the air is moist. 

No matter what type of strange, destructive, or never-before-heard-of weather we encounter this winter, it is important to stay safe and be prepared. You don't want to be stuck outside if another bomb cyclone hits!