Weather Word Wednesday: Bomb Cyclone

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 1:39 PM CST
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - If you watched any national news in the days leading up to Christmas, you likely heard the term “bomb cyclone” being thrown around. It is an actual meteorological term and it’s been around to describe strong storm system for decades.

Gusty winds, heavy precipitation and quickly changing temperatures happen when a cyclone undergoes what is called “bombogenesis.”

That’s where the term “bomb cyclone” is derived from.

The NOAA Glossary defines bomb cyclone, or simply bomb, as “a phenomenon or process in which there is a rapid and sustained falling of barometric pressure in the center of a low pressure system, indicative of its strengthening into a powerful storm.

Essentially, it’s a storm that rapidly intensifies.

The term was first coined by meteorologists in the 1940s and 1950s.

It is considered a bomb cyclone when the center of pressure drops at least 24 millibars (mb) in 24 hours. A millibar is the metric system unit of pressure used in meteorology.

Watch the video above to find out if the winter storm that brought snow, gusty wind and bitter cold to the QCA was a true bomb cyclone.

Previous Weather Word Wednesday segments on Quad Cities Today at 11:

Snow Squall


Radiational Cooling

Lake Effect Snow