A bomb cyclone is a rare event; how to prepare

A storm system bringing heavy snow, ice and thunderstorms to the East Coast through Monday will also produce tornadoes, some likely to be damaging. Meteorologists are tracking one or more bomb cyclones over the next 24 hours — that is, a storm system with sustained winds above the storm center, equal to or greater than 80 mph.

What is a bomb cyclone?

The storm system currently crawling over the East Coast is dubbed a bomb cyclone due to the dense plume of cold air it is producing, which is swirling around its center. These cloud patterns are known as bombogenesis.

“A meteorological bomb” is what is labeled as a severe thunderstorm, according to the National Weather Service. “One with a wind field that is greater than 200 nautical miles from the center, and winds that gust over 65 mph.”

There is no specific definition for what constitutes a hurricane or a cyclone. But a “storm with relatively compact winds” like the one plowing through the East Coast is not expected to be a hurricane, the NWS says.

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