Science Wednesday – April 10, 2019
It’s Science Wednesday! For the second time in less than a month, the Rockies and plains of the United States are experiencing what’s called a “bomb cyclone,” an actual term used by meteorologists. A bomb cyclone is a mid-latitude storm that rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. The lower the pressure, the worse the storm. Basically, a bomb cyclone is like experiencing a category 2 hurricane – but over land and with snow! Just yesterday, we had temperatures here near 80 degrees Fahrenheit! Unfortunately, in addition to the snowfall, other parts of the country (like Nebraska, pictured below) are experiencing historic flooding from heavy rainfall and rapid snowmelt. Warmer ocean temperatures, more water vapor in the air and warmer air temperatures all play a role in producing these kinds of powerful, wet storms. As climate continues to change, we may see this more frequently.