“Bombogenesis” describes blizzard

An infrared image shows a well developed, powerful storm center about 200 miles southeast of Nantucket. — National Weather Service

The collision of two low pressure systems, one pulling frigid air from Canada, and the other gathering relatively warmer energy from the Gulf of Mexico, triggered a phenomenon known to weather geeks as “bombogenesis.” That word is an offshoot of cyclogenesis, the process of a storm intensifying into a cyclone as it moves over ocean waters. When it happens very fast, meteorologists call it bombogenesis, and they get very excited. National Weather Service meteorologists describe the blizzard off the New England coast in very strong terms.

“This storm will undergo explosive bombogenesis over the next 24 hours as it passes about 200 miles east of the benchmark,” National Weather Service forecasters wrote Tuesday night in a technical discussion of the formation of the storm. “The system will become a complete bomb dropping 40 millibars in 24 hours. While this will be an incredibly powerful extra-tropical storm with pressure below 960 millibars, it’s just passing too far east to produce a lot of snow for most of our region. The exception to this will be across the Cape/Islands where a blizzard with damaging winds are expected.”

This infrared image loop shows how the two weather systems intensified over the last 30 minutes.

Another series of infrared images shows the collision of the two low pressure systems over the last 12 hours.