“Bomb” isn’t a buzzword that regularly makes it into weather headlines, but its the perfect one to describe the monster north-easter slated to plunge the East Coast back into its never-ending nuclear winter early next week.
“Nor’easter bomb indicated off the mid-Atlantic coast late Tuesday night” is the exact wording of the National Weather Service to describe the oncoming “explosive cyclogenesis,” a meteorological term for low pressure centers deepening faster than 24 millibars in 24 hours, and is reserved for the most intense storms, according to a Slate report.
“The East Coast cyclone has the potential to produce late-season heavy snowfall over a wide swath of real estate from Virginia to New England. Much remains in terms of refining the forecast state by state,” the NWS forecast said. “Another high-impact factor will be the powerful winds generated by this sprawling, intense circulation, along with high seas, beach battery, coastal flooding, and so forth. Again, at this point, such sensible weather effects are simply attendant to the potential of such a storm.”
This one is far from a guess — multiple models have been predicting the storm’s growth consistently for days, and one long-range model estimates it will intensify by more than two times the necessary conditions required for a bomb. The same model is calling for hurricane-force winds over the Atlantic by Wednesday, with the jet stream fueling the storm above the surface at 170 m.p.h.
The resulting air link between the Arctic and East Coast opens up the potential for serious snowfall. While estimating amounts five days out is pretty unorthodox, if models remain consistent, New York could wake up under a record-setting two-feet plus.
Saint Louis University’s Cooperative Institute for Precipitation Systems average forecast from six hourly weather maps shows a snowfall area from Georgia to New England, with about six inches hitting an area from Washington, D.C. to New York City and Boston.
Models like Saint Louis’s compare current weather maps against past weather events (in the university’s case going back more than 30 years) to make predictions based on historical similarity. One of the comparative hits for next’s week’s storm from the NOAA Weather Prediction Center included the Superstorm of 1993 – a March blizzard that still holds low-pressure records, brought hurricane-force winds, and dropped 13 cubic miles of snow from Maine to Florida.
The storm will be precipitated by a jet stream from the North Pole over the weekend, which will push temperatures down 10 to 25 degrees below March averages across the east and back into mid-January like zones for much of the week.
After that its literally anyone’s guess, outside of one fact — spring isn’t here yet.