What Is a 'Bombogenesis'?

Those in the path of a powerful 'bombogenesis' storm system should prepare for high winds and whiteout snow conditions. . (Photo: Jan Day/Shutterstock)

The word "bombogenesis" is more than a potentially great name for your next band; it's also a cool weather term you may have heard being thrown around by meteorologists. But what exactly is it?

A bombogenesis or bomb cyclone, is used to describe an extreme drop in pressure of 24 millibars in 24 hours. These rapidly strengthening storms occur when a large temperature gradient is formed between a cold continental mass of air and warm sea-surface temperatures. These air masses mix to form what's called an "extratropical cyclone," with cold air at its core deriving energy from the mixing of hot and cold air masses around it.

These storms commonly happen along the East Coast — nor'easters in particular are often formed through the process of bombogenesis — but that's not the only place they occur. Currently, heavy snow and rain from a powerful storm is battering the Northwest after the barometric pressure plummeted, reports AccuWeather. Some areas in the Cascades are expecting up to 2 feet of snow.

Here's what it looked like from space when the East Coast experienced this phenomenon in January 2018:

Bombogenesis storms, which can form over both land and sea, generally occur between October and March. The energy created from the colliding air masses is so great that the resulting storms can sometimes rival the wind speeds of hurricanes, which is what the National Weather Service in Seattle described was happening on the aptly named Destruction Island on Wednesday.

As you can see in the video below, a familiar eye can form at the center. This is a bomb cyclone that rocked the North Atlantic in April 2016:

What a bombogenesis generally means for those living in its path is blizzard conditions of extreme snow and wind.

How do you prepare for a bombogenesis? Stock up, stay warm, throw another log on the fire, and keep off the roads. This is one cold punch of powder best experienced from behind a window.