Holy cow, folks, it’s a “bombogenesis” turning into a “bomb cyclone.” And boy is it windy, wet and cold.
For the beleaguered mid-section of the United States, this scary-sounding term joins “polar vortex” in the lexicon of things to be dreaded.
For my part of Kansas — I’m in Wichita — the bomb cyclone that’s been raging for two days means I’m missing a significant number of shingles from my roof and something is flooded just about anywhere you go. For my friends elsewhere, some of whom still had snow on the ground when this mess started, it’s been a soggy, muddy mess in cattle pens at dairies and feedyards. Producers have been scrambling to move cows and baby calves to higher, drier ground.
Every time I heard a TV reporter exclaim “be prepared for bombogenesis,” I chuckled a little. What a word! But like polar vortex, it turns out bombogenesis is a term that has been around for a long time. It just doesn’t usually occur in the Midwest in March.
In fact, it is under the “Ocean Facts” tab on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association website, where there is also the fascinating information that “14 of 20 hurricane-force wind events underwent bombogenesis in the North Atlantic during the first two months of 2014.”
And while wind is a major component of the event, it actually refers to the rate at which an extreme low pressure system intensifies. If the pressure drops more than 24 millibars in 24 hours, the system is undergoing bombogenesis, which creates a “bomb cyclone.”
It’s already happened once before this year. Remember the middle of the polar vortex when Chicago was colder than Mars? That air mass created a bombogenesis when it hit warmer air in the east and rolled up the coast as a “bomb cyclone” in Massachusetts. Kind of a polar vortex unrolling a bombogenesis. How’s that for fun meteorological vocabulary?
NOAA notes that this generally happens when a very cold air mass collides with a warm one, especially over warm ocean waters in the midlatitudes (anywhere between the tropics and the polar region).
For farmers all across the Midwest, it’s been just one more catastrophic event in a winter that has been known for massive snowstorms, high winds and bitter cold.
So, will spring ever come? I have a couple of patches of daffodils that popped out of the ground on a sunny day about a week ago. I haven’t had the heart to go check if they have now been drowned or buried under an avalanche of shingles.
I still have my packages of seeds and my sacks of garden soil and cottonseed compost. One of these days, it just has to be time to dig in the dirt and plant something. Ready everybody? Click your ruby red slippers and repeat, “There’s no time like spring.”