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Explainer: What is a bomb cyclone?

You might have heard us say it before and thought it was a made-up term, well it's not!

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You may have heard it the last few days due to a potent storm off the Pacific North West, the term Bomb Cyclone. One could be forgiven as well for thinking this is a made-up term by meteorologists to sound more dramatic.

In fact, the term is nothing new and was first used in the 1940s to describe rapidly strengthening storm systems.  According to the American Meteorological Society, a "Bomb" occurs when a low-pressure area drops 24 millibars in 24 hours or on average 1 millibar per hour over 24 hours. In layman terms, a storm is rapidly strengthening.  So next time you hear a meteorologist say a storm is a bomb cyclone you will know what it means. 

Mid-latitude storms can often become bomb cyclones along the gulf stream north and east of the first coast ushering in windy conditions and sometimes much colder weather. A good example of this was on January 4 in 2018 when a storm developed off the North East Coastline ushering in cold air resulting in a temperature drop in Jacksonville to 28 degrees.