Backgrounder: What is a "bomb cyclone"?

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-05 12:57:46|Editor: Yang Yi
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- As people on the U.S. East Coast are dealing with an intense "bomb cyclone," the weather term goes viral on the internet.

The "bomb cyclone" has affected Americans' life badly, but meteorologists have pointed out the weather phenomenon is not as fearsome as the term sounds.

So far, the high winds and heavy snowfalls brought to eastern America by the "bomb cyclone" have left thousands of flights canceled, and numerous schools and offices closed.

Millions of Americans are bracing for potential power shortages as a deeper freeze is expected to come in the following days till Saturday, requiring more fuel to warm homes and commercial buildings.

Actually, meteorologists have used the term "bomb" for storms for decades. About 40 to 50 "bomb cyclones" occur each year worldwide but most are over open ocean and far from our daily life, U.S. meteorologist Ryan Maue said.

"The actual impacts aren't going to be a bomb at all," Maue was quoted by The Guardian. "There's nothing exploding or detonating."

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a "bomb cyclone" is formed when a mid-latitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, causing a steep drop in atmospheric pressure of at least 24 millibars over 24 hours.

"The 'bomb' is in reference to the speed of the change," said Gregg Gallina, a meteorologist at the U.S. National Weather Service.

After Washington Post used this term in its Tuesday's story, the "bomb cyclone" became a catchy word on social media. People use #bomb #cyclone or #bombcyclone in their tweets with or without a snowy picture.

While some people complain about the extreme storm which caused travel chaos and at least 11 deaths in the United States, some are having fun in their first snow in over two decades.

According to weather forecasters, people need to pay attention to the updates but there is no need to panic.