Origin of the Term “Bomb Cyclone”

The term “bomb cyclone” is not listed in AFH 11-203V1 or V2, “Weather for Aircrews,” a three-week course taught to all military aviators in the United States Air Force.  The volumes comprise 234 and 85 pages, for a total of 319 pages of detailed meteorology.  It includes tons of references to cyclone, cyclones, and cyclonic activity, but not a word about “bomb cyclone” or “cyclone bomb,” “cyclonic bomb,” “bombogenesis,” or other variations.
 
So I checked an exhaustive online weather glossary. Zero. Zip. Nada.
 
And then I found the origin: “John Gyakum, along with the revered late Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorologist Fred Sanders, first coined the term in a paper they published in 1980. They used the phrase to describe powerful cyclones that get their energy from rapid drops in pressure caused by hot and cold temperatures colliding.”
Here’s the link to the American Meteorological Society’s Abstract for the paper, and here’s the link to the paper itself.  And here’s the citation:
Gyakum, J. R. and Sanders, F.  (1980).  Synoptic-dynamic climatology of the “Bomb.”  Department of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institution of Technology.  Retrieved from:  http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0493%281980%29108%3C1589%3ASDCOT%3E2.0.CO%3B2
 
This term, however, while coined by two researchers from MIT, was never widely adopted in the annals of mainstream meteorology.  Furthermore, Gyakum stopped using it shortly after 9/11 for obvious reasons.  Sanders passed away in 2006.
 

As of January 4, 2018, the term “bomb cyclone” as swept through the corridors of mudstream media like wildfire, even though it was never

January 2018 Hurricane
(click to enlarge)

officially adopted as a weather term.  Technically, it’s still just a cyclone (tropical depression), although it appears as if NOAA is caiming it has developed hurricane-force winds near its center.

Even so, tons of publications ranging from Time to Forbes, Popular Science, Fortune, and more have all put out articles about its origins. Fortune gets it right: “Technically, the term bomb cyclone comes from the scientific term “bombogenesis,” which is a storm that drops 24 millibars of pressure over 24 hours.”  Well, it sort of gets it right, as the term “bombogenesis” never appeared in the original paper.

There’s a difference between normal cyclonic development and a bomb, best explained by this quote from NBC News’ Science:  “Hurricane Sandy was a monster, but not a bomb since it was forecast with extraordinary accuracy a week ahead. A meteorological bomb, on the other hand, develops at a frightening pace — with the atmospheric pressure dropping a millibar or more per hour for at least 24 hours.” – NBC News

The problem with this is that the term was never used by mainstream meteorologists and just randomly popped up even though it’s surviving creator said he’s not using it any more.

Thus, I think some idiot from mudstream media re-coined it without knowing its origin, and only after it gained traction did the many outlets of mudstream media try to legitimize it by tying it back to an obscure research paper from 1980.  I found a few references to various forms of it used by local meteorologists over the years, dating back to 2007.

Regardless, the threat is real.  Despite its appearance in January, well past the end of hurricane season, it still has all the earmarks of a hurricane, including high winds and massive precipitation.  In fact, due to the extreme cold, instead of falling as many inches of rain, that precipitation will fall as many feet of snow.

As of 4:00 AM on January 4, 2018, it’s center was abeam North Carolina, but by 3:00 PM, it had moved rapidly north, so that it’s currently abeam Nantucket.  Furthermore, although it is rapidly pulling polar air from Canada, sweeping it through the Eastern Seaboard,  it appears to be far enough out to sea that it’s not “bombing” the area with snow.  Nantucket is currently reporting 13 inches of snow, with another 3 inches per hour for several hours.  Three feet of snow would be a lot, but it’s not uncommon in that area, and it’s certainly not ten feet.