What is bombogenesis?

The first winter storm of 2018 delivered snow from Florida to New England

By Jonathan Stacey - Meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association bombogenesis is a process of rapid intensification that can lead to especially dangerous winds and precipitation. 

The latest storm which formed south of the Florida peninsula last week marched up the East Coast this week delivering ice, flurries and light snow across North Florida while providing even greater amounts of winter weather from the coast of Georgia to New England. The storm's pressure dropped 49 millibars in just 24 hours making it a superbombogenesis. 

These kind of storms are also called  "bomb cyclones" or "weather bombs" and they rival the strength of hurricanes. This storm was actually very similar to Hurricane Charley which hit southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane in 2004. The hurricane's pressure dropped 23 millibars in pressure in less than 5 hours - that unprecedented. 

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The word bombogenesis is created by combining "bomb" and "cyclogenesis," or meteorology speak for storm formation. Meteorologists say storm undergoes bombogenesis when it's central low pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. (In case you didn't know, a millibar is a unit of pressure that essentially measures the weight of the atmosphere overhead.) Therefore, the potential for hurricane or tropical storm force winds is present, however, most winter storm's winds aren't damaging, as they are more likely to produce blizzard-like conditions. 

Over the years many bomb cyclones haven't impacted Florida, however, there have been some notable storms that many Americans will remember for ages like the Storm of the Century also known at the 1993 Superstorm. According to Accuweather, the storm dumped record amounts of snow across parts of the eastern United States from March 12-13. Almost 15 years later in February 2017 another snow storm produced blizzard like condition across the Northeast with snowfall rate up to 4 inches an hour. 

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