A winter storm, described as a “bomb cyclone,” lashed
the Northeast, bringing floods, frigid temperatures, and snow
to cities across the region.
The storm’s central pressure dropped to about 951
millibars, which is equivalent to a Category 3
After the storm, the area is expected to be slapped
with an Arctic air mass on Friday evening, plunging
temperatures to below zero in New York City.
A winter storm described as a ‘bomb
cyclone‘ slammed into New York, New Jersey, and much of
southern New England on Thursday, bringing lots of snow, wind,
flooding, and frigid temperatures.
has moved on from the Northeast, after leaving thousands
without power, causing massive flooding, and
killing 12 people. The storm rapidly intensified on Thursday
— it dumped around 10 inches of snow in New York City and
caused huge floods in Boston, with widespread road and
airport closures throughout the region.
New York City received far more snow than the 2-4 inches
originally forecast, and Boston experienced a record-high tidal
surge. Parts of Long Island, Eastern Massachusetts, and the New
Jersey coast received 12 inches of snow by the time the storm
moved on from the region.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a
travel advisory across New York City, Long Island, and
Westchester until 4 p.m. on Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, New
York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a winter weather emergency for
all of the city’s five boroughs.
But Boston had it worse. A huge
storm surge flooded parts of the city and a number of towns on
the coast of Massachusetts. Boston is experiencing the highest
tide since 1921, according to The
National Weather Service. And 76 mile-per-hour gusts were
recorded off the coast of Nantucket, close to the storm’s
epicenter on Thursday.
Friday morning brought the
beginning of a frigid plunge. Temperatures in New York City were
sitting around 13 degrees Farenheit as of 11:30 a.m., while
Boston saw temperatures around 15 degrees. It’s expected to get
much worse: Boston’s temperature will drop to -1 tonight, while
New York will hit around 4 degrees.
On Saturday night, temperatures
will plunge in Bosto to -6, with the windchill making it feel
What is a ‘bomb cyclone’?
This isn’t hyperbole — a “weather bomb,” or “bombogenesis,” is
the term used by meteorologists for this kind of storm system.
The phenomenon gets the ominous label when the central pressure
of a low-pressure system drops at least 24 millibars (a unit for
measuring atmospheric pressure) within 24 hours.
Bombogenesis occurs when cold, continental air masses meet warm,
moisture-rich oceanic air. That can create high winds and heavy
according to The Weather Channel.
The East Coast storm exceeded the standard bombogenesis rate by
several millibars and drop to a minimum pressure of about 950
millibars — equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. (Hurricane
Sandy, which devastated New York City and the New Jersey coast in
had a minimum pressure of 946 millibars when it made
Meteorologists consider air pressure
to be a measure of a storm’s intensity, meaning this was
likely the strongest winter storm to hit the East Coast in
This GIF shows the pressure lows that were projected for the
coast of New York and New England on Thursday afternoon, based on
models from the interactive forecast site Windy:
After the snow, a deep freeze
Areas as far south as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
and Jacksonville, Florida, saw a bit of snowfall and ice
accumulation this week, which ground travel to a halt.
Following the storm, an Arctic air mass has been pulled south,
drawn in by the massive air circulation in the storm’s wake.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, it’s actually better that
there was heavy snowfall in much of the Northeast, given the
Gary Szatkowski, a meteorologist, explained
on Twitter that even a couple of inches of snow can serve as
infrastructure insulation, protecting water pipes and subway
tracks from extreme cold. Without such snow, water pipes can
freeze or burst, which can knock out power and create a cascade
Despite what President Donald Trump has
claimed on Twitter, winter storms — just like hurricanes and
heat waves — can be made more severe by climate change. As the
White House and Congress gear up
to take on infrastructure this year, that’s probably a threat
they should keep in mind.