How Bomb Cyclones Are Changing The Way We Talk About Weather

Terms that have been around for years in meteorological circles are now mainstream because of social media.

By Jill AmentMarch 15, 2019 12:23 pm

Blizzards, tornadoes and intense gusts of wind have plagued the Midwest in recent days. Many are calling this weather event a “bomb cyclone,” which sounds extreme, but Matt Lanza, managing editor of Houston weather forecasting blog Space City Weather, says that’s the technical term for a particular weather phenomenon.

“Believe it or not, there is actually an explicit definition,” Lanza says.

Storms are caused when atmospheric pressure drops in a certain area, and when the pressure drops by at least 24 millibars within 24 hours, meteorologists officially classify the storm as a bomb cyclone. Lanza says these storms have a lot of force.

“As it deepens rapidly, it obviously strengthens rapidly,” Lanza says. “So, therefore, its impact can be more significant and faster.”

Lanza says the popularization of technical terms like “bomb cyclone” and “polar vortex” is a curious trend. He says the terms have been around for years in meteorological circles, but now they’re used by the public.

“What I think has happened is that you have a lot of meteorologists that you see interacting on Twitter or different social media platforms, and now those are not conversations that are happening behind closed doors – they’re out in the open,” Lanza says.


Written By Sol Chase.