What is a ‘bomb cyclone?' Huge winter storm system to impact East Coast

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The East Coast from northern Florida all the way up the Atlantic to the New England area could feel the effects of a massive winter storm that some forecasters are dubbing a “bomb cyclone.”

The term for the weather phenomenon has varied over the years. Meteorologists called it “bombogenesis” during the blizzard that took place in Boston in 2015.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), bombogenesis or bomb cyclone “occurs when a midlatitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone.”

Basically, the storm is rapidly or explosively strengthening.

Another example of a storm that underwent bombogenesis is the Superstorm of 1993. Also known as the “Storm of the Century,” that massive weather system brought huge snowfall totals, high winds and coastal flooding to the Eastern part of the United States.

As for this week’s “bomb cyclone,” the storm in addition with the cold arctic air affecting most of the Eastern United States is expected to bring freezing rain, sleet and possibly snow from portions of the Florida panhandle to eastern North Carolina. As the storm travels north, snow will develop along the Mid-Atlantic coast and in the Northeast, with possible blizzard conditions in the New England region.

As for the D.C. metro region, this storm system may be too far out at sea in the Atlantic to bring any significant snow. We may only see some flurries to possibly 2 inches of accumulation from Wednesday night into Thursday morning. However, the coastline area of the Mid-Atlantic could see much more accumulating snowfall. FOX 5's Mike Thomas goes into more detail here.