Hearing the word "cyclone" is enough to make anyone anxious—but adding the word "bomb" into the mix makes it sound even more serious. It's a term East Coasters quickly became familiar with last winter, when one struck the Northeast. With another one expected to hit the middle of the U.S. this week, here's everything you need to know about—and to prepare for—the bomb cyclone being called Winter Storm Ulmer.
What is a bomb cyclone?
The proper name for a bomb cyclone is actually explosive cyclogenesis or bombogenesis, and they can bring anything from hurricane-force winds to intense snow storms. What gives storms like these the nickname "bomb" is actually how fast the atmospheric pressure drops during the whole ordeal—it gets super intense, and quick.
According to The New York Times, "the barometric pressure must drop by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours for a storm to be called a bomb cyclone." This happens when a region of warm air crashes with cold air, creating cyclonic effects and thus dropping the barometric pressure at a higher rate.
Where is the bomb cyclone going to hit?
The National Weather Service has issued a high winds warning targeting the areas from the Big Bend of Texas into the Plains, blizzard warnings from Colorado to North Dakota, and a winter storm watch for the entire Plains area.
What happens during a bomb cyclone?
So what does this mean for you? This particular storm is said to drop 970 millibars, which would match it with a Category 2 Atlantic hurricane. "This will be one of the strongest wind events in years for West Texas and Southeast New Mexico," said the National Weather Service.
What can happen during a bomb cyclone is heavy rain, snow, flooding, blizzard conditions, and high winds.
How do I prepare for a bomb cyclone?
First, to effectively prepare for the storm you should have a 3-day supply of food and water stored in your home according to FEMA—just in case. That means one gallon of water per person per day and plenty of non-perishable food items. If you have a pet, don't forget about their food and water supply as well!
You should also have a battery powered radio in your possession and plenty of flashlights, batteries, and portable chargers. A first-aid kit is also recommended along with dust masks, whistles to call for help, local maps, and a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
Where's the safest place in my home during a bomb cyclone?
As for where to stay in your home during the storm, you shouldn't be near any windows or glass doors—the safest space is an interior room, or a closet or a bathroom. If flooding begins, turn off your electricity at the main breaker for safety.
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