East coast “bombogenesis” expected as nor’easter strengthens

finger lakes weather nor'easter january 3 2018 bombogensis coastal storm
A strong nor’easter will clip the eastern seaboard, but what is all of this about “bombogenesis”?

Nor’easter Clips Eastern Seaboard

A classic nor’easter set up across the eastern United States will yield the first significant winter storm of the season from Florida to Maine.

Low pressure has developed along a stalled out frontal boundary off the coast of Florida. A cold high pressure system to the north is ensuring cold air is entrenched well south into the system.

Already, northern Florida and Georgia have seen snow and ice as this storm takes shape.

A significant storm will brush the East Coast with heavy snow and strong winds Wednesday night into Thursday, January 3-4, 2018. Click image to enlarge.

Rapid intensification is expected as the system tracks north just off the coast, feeding off of the large temperature gradient between the cool land and warm air over the Gulf Stream Current.

Blizzard warnings are in effect for a few coastal areas where heavy snow will combine with damaging winds to create whiteout conditions, power outages, and significant drifting snow. These blizzard warnings include the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area as well as the Delmarva Penninsula, Cape Cod, and eastern Maine.

Winter Storm Warnings are also in effect for snow and ice up and down the Eastern Seaboard with less serious Winter Weather Advisories further inland.

This storm will not be a tremendous snow maker, with top snow totals of 12-16 inches from Boston into Maine. While certainly a major storm, it will not be breaking any notable snowfall records.

The wind will be the bigger issue, especially along the coast, where beach erosion and coastal flooding are also concerns.

This storm will make its way up the coast Wednesday night through Thursday and should be departing northern New England by Friday morning.

What is Bombogenesis?

Remember a couple of years ago when the media caught hold of the term “Polar Vortex” and kicked up a massive frenzy?

The same thing seems to be happening with this storm and the term “Bombogenesis”.

Like Polar Vortex, Bombogenesis is a term that meteorologists have been using for many, many years. It sounds scary but has a very specific meaning in meteorology.

Breaking the word down, there are two parts “Bomb” and “Genesis”.

“Genesis” is a meteorological suffix we attach to words to indicate development. Thus, cyclogenesis is the development of a low pressure system.

“Bomb” brings to mind explosions.  In this case, it is a simple metaphor.

“Bombogenesis”, therefore, simply means the explosive, in other words, rapid and intense, development of a low pressure system.

Technically, “bombogenesis” occurs when the pressure of a low drops over 24 millibars in 24 hours.

Now, most weather systems that pass through on a week to week basis have pressures between 1020 millibars and 990 millibars. Those numbers represent a relatively strong high and low pressure system, respectively.

This storm is currently measured at about 1000 millibars. By Thursday evening, its pressure should be closer to 950 millibars, far exceeding the 24 millibar threshold. This is certainly an impressive display of strengthening.

Impacts in the Finger Lakes

Here in the Finger Lakes, the impacts from this coastal storm will be more indirect.

With the low pressure center tracking well off the coast of New England, no more than a few snow showers from the storm itself are expected to reach the eastern Finger Lakes, let alone areas further west.

However, there will be an arctic cold front passing through which will contribute to the snow showers Thursday.

More importantly, as the storm strengthens, so too will its winds. Behind the low Thursday evening, strong northwest winds will develop over the Finger Lakes.

Combined with the arctic front, this will usher in the coldest air we have seen yet in our recent stretch of frigid weather.

Wind Chill Watches are currently in place and will likely be changed to Wind Chill Warnings for at least parts of the region, with wind chills colder than -20 degrees expected Friday into Saturday.

Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). When not forecasting, he can be found working at the local library, making goat milk soap, running until his legs burn, or playing with his three young boys.

7 Responses

  1. […] – Dangerous Wind Chills and Lake Effect Snow Likely Through Saturday (FLXWeather.com) – East coast “bombogenesis” expected as nor’easter strengthens (FLXWeather.com) – Wind chill forecast map for Upstate NY: How cold will it feel where you […]

  2. […] – Dangerous Wind Chills and Lake Effect Snow Likely Through Saturday (FLXWeather.com) – East coast “bombogenesis” expected as nor’easter strengthens (FLXWeather.com) – Wind chill forecast map for Upstate NY: How cold will it feel where you […]

  3. Wendy Montreuil

    So full of information that is calm and concise! Thanks so much for all you do.

  4. Sharon Heller

    I love a good bombogenesis. I hope we get one here soon!

  5. Bill Drew

    Well written and directly to the point. I am a weather junkie with my own “weather station”,

  6. Chuck Carpenter

    I don’t often comment but, I always come to you for honest weather forecasts. You’re the best, Drew! “Bombogenesis” is an old term to you folks in the field of weather but, new to most folks out here in the field experiencing weather. ;^)- Weather forecasting is tricky but you, my friend, have distinguished yourself in the honesty and accuracies of your forecasts! I wish you and yours a very happy new year. One suggestion: Always forecast a lot of sunshine and slow growing grass! ;^)- Chuck.

  7. Debbie Gross

    Thank you, i love reading your posts!