Weather News

Is a ‘bomb cyclone’ coming for you? Forecast as winter storm tears through Midwest

A “bomb cyclone” — complete with hurricane-strength wind and dangerous storm conditions — is forecast to bring destruction to the Midwest and U.S. Central region, according to weather reports.

A “bomb cyclone” (also known as Bombogenesis) happens when a cyclone develops so fast that it drops the atmospheric pressure by at least 24 millibars, according to NOAA. It can occur when cold air hits warm air.

“The greater difference in pressure over an area, the stronger the winds,” according to The Weather Channel.

“You can see this typically with cyclones or other hurricane type events,” meteorologist Kari Bowen said, according to Colorado Public Radio. “It’s just a rapid intensification of this (weather) system.”

The National Weather Service predicts it will be a “highly impactful winter storm” that tears through the region.

Here is what the “bomb cyclone” is predicted to bring:

Hurricane winds

While this is “not a tropical system” that’s expected to hit the heartland, meteorologist Ryan Maue says the “winds will rival what’s seen in a Category 1 hurricane,” USA Today reported.

CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said gusts of wind hitting 50 to 70 mph are forecast to hit Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning, according to the station.

The strongest winds — with gusts hitting 100 mph — could hit Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, according to USA Today.

If those areas do get ferocious 100 mph wind gusts, the gusts would be “equivalent to the wind speed of a Category 2 hurricane,” CNN reported.

Sustained wind speeds of 30 to 40 mph are expected across New Mexico, western Texas, central to western Oklahoma, central to western Kansas and southeast Colorado, according to the National Weather Service.

Strong winds could lead to widespread power outages, USA Today reported.

Blizzard conditions

Blizzard warnings are in effect from northeast Colorado to northwest Minnesota, The Weather Channel reported.

Travel may be impossible, CNN reports, and both flights and schools are being canceled in areas where the white-out blizzard may hit.

“We’re going to see possibly near-zero visibility over the Eastern Plains,” Bowen said, according to Colorado Public Radio. “Lots of blowing snow, lots of high winds, drifting snow. So pretty hazardous conditions.”

That will lead to reduced visibility in the “snowy side of the system,” which is expected from Colorado to the Dakotas, according to AccuWeather.


Active thunderstorms are predicted for the south and southeast area of the central plains, according to the National Weather Service.

“Heavy rains...isolated flooding and severe weather will accompany these thunderstorms as they march fairly quickly eastward,” the weather service predicts.

Flood risk

Heavy rain is expected Wednesday night through Thursday throughout the region, which may lead to flooding, AccuWeather says.

“The greatest risk of flooding will tend to be in urban and poor drainage areas where piles of snow are blocking storm drains,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

Flooding is a concern for central Nebraska to southern Minnesota and northern Michigan, she said.

“Flash flooding is possible if ice jams clog rivers and streams, the weather service noted,” according to CNN.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle