The type of winter storm exploding across the Northeast has a name, and yes, it sounds like something dreamed up for a Hollywood blockbuster.
Call this wintry mix of intensifying wind and snow a “bombogenesis.”
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You won’t find the word in the dictionary, but it’s a term coined by meteorologists to describe an area of low pressure that “deepens rapidly,” creating a strong storm, or cyclone, that intensifies as it moves over the ocean, said Bob Oravec, a National Weather Service forecaster.
To have a bombogenesis situation, a cold air mass needs to meet a warmer one. That can happen over water or land, although the East Coast is a prime spot during the winter months when the cold arctic air clashes with the warmer Gulf Stream waters, Oravec said.
The barometric pressure drops, sending the winds into overdrive. Condensation clouds bring the snow or rain.
“Genesis refers to the generating (of the storm), while bomb means it’s an explosive growth,” Oravec added.
The storm, dropping about a foot of snow on some parts of the Northeast, will see winds intensify Tuesday evening into Wednesday — creating this bombogenesis event.
Oravec said there’s potential for a bombogenesis to occur every winter. In fact, he said, one hit over the waters off the East Coast when the polar vortex struck earlier this month.
— Erik Ortiz and Polly DeFrank