The word "bombogenesis" is not only a potentially great name for your next band, but also a cool weather term you may have heard being thrown around by meteorologists. But what exactly is it and why is the Northeast United States on high alert for another one?

A bombogenesis, aka "cyclone bomb," is used to describe an extreme drop in pressure of 24 millibars in 24 hours. These rapidly strengthening storms occur when a large temperature gradient is formed between a cold continental mass of air and warm sea-surface temperatures. These air masses mix to form what's called an "extratropical cyclone," with cold air at its core deriving energy from the mixing of hot and cold air masses around it.

As you might expect, these storms commonly happen along the East Coast. Nor'easters in particular are often formed through the process of bombogenesis.

Here's what it looked like the last time we experienced this phenomenon with Winter Storm Grayson in January 2018.


Bombogenesis storms, which can form over both land and sea, generally occur between October and March. So great is the energy created from the colliding air masses that the resulting storms can sometimes rival the wind speeds of hurricanes. As you can see in the video below from a bombo that rocked the North Atlantic in April 2016, a familiar eye can form at the center.

What a bombogenesis generally means for those living in its path is blizzard conditions of extreme snow and wind.

How to prepare for a bombogenesis? Stock up, stay warm, throw another log on the fire, and keep off the roads. This is one cold punch of powder best experienced from behind a window.

Editor's note: This story was originally written in December 2016 and has been updated with new information.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.