‘Bomb cyclone’ to ice over parts of US, tornadoes possible

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A “bomb cyclone” is forecast to tear across central and eastern states through this weekend.

At the tail end of winter, the storm will bring a mix of hazardous conditions from heavy snow and ice to high winds, rain and severe thunderstorms. Tornadoes are possible in the Southeast.

A bomb cyclone, is essentially a winter hurricane, and commonplace on the Eastern Seaboard. The typically large storm becomes as a “bomb cyclone” when it undergoes a process called bombogenesis, according to Scientific American, and sees a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure over 24 hours.

A strengthening low pressure system is forecast to produce heavy snow over parts of the Ohio Valley and interior eastern US beginning on Friday night and continuing through Saturday.

Heavy snow, gusty winds and severely reduced visibility will make driving difficult at times, particularly in western parts of New York and Pennsylvania. More than 12 inches of snow are likely in some areas.

While it may seem illogical, winter storms which drop more snow are an expected outcome of the climate crisis. As the planet heats, more water evaporates and builds up moisture in the atmosphere. In summer this means more torrential downpours while in winter that takes the form of heavy snow.

On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC) reported that moderate to heavy snow was falling over the Southern Rockies and from parts of Texas to Nebraska.

High winds in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico on Thursday could make roads treacherous in those areas from blowing snow. Some light snow may also impact the Midwest through Thursday evening.

Where the late-winter “bomb cyclone” is expected to impact the US through this weekend (National Weather Service)
Where the late-winter “bomb cyclone” is expected to impact the US through this weekend (National Weather Service)

There was a chance of excessive rainfall and severe thunderstorms over parts of the southeast by Friday night and an Arctic blast sweeping over the Great Plains. Highs will be between 20-30 degrees below average.

Forecasters were increasingly confident that the winter storm would sweep up through the interior US to impact the East Coast late on Friday until Saturday.

It would contribute to hazardous weather conditions for central and eastern parts of the country in the coming days.

Winter storm warnings and advisories were in place for the Central Plains and Middle Mississippi Valley, with an additional 4-8 inches of snow possible.

Snow accumulations exceeding a foot are likely over mountain peaks in the Southern Rockies.

Light to moderate rain and scattered to isolated thunderstorms will affect parts of the Southeast from today and by Friday, moderate to heavy rainfall will develop over the Florida panhandle through to the Georgia coast. There is some risk of excessive rainfall leading to flash flooding for those areas, WPC reported.

Severe thunderstorms capable of producing damaging winds and a few tornadoes are also possible from the Alabama coast and the Florida panhandle to the southeastern coast of North Carolina.