Image by Comfreak from Pixabay
Believe it or not, Bomb cyclones are a real thing that Coloradans must brace for in our uncertain climate. A bomb cyclone, or ‘explosive cyclogenesis,’ is pretty much exactly how it sounds – a meteorological bomb! When storms decrease in pressure by 24 millibars or more in a 24-hour period, this means they are strengthening, creating primary conditions for a bomb cyclone – causing intense precipitation and very high winds.
They can occur any time of the year in any area of the world where the conditions and ingredients are present. The sudden dip in pressure can potentially cause a bomb cyclone with lots of rain, snow, high winds, and, unfortunately, often a great deal of damage. Because the rapidly ascending air near the storm’s center must be replaced by air surrounding the storm, storms that undergo bombogenesis are among the most violent weather systems that affect a broad area. As these winds move toward the center of the storm at high speed, property damage can occur, trees may fall, and the power may go out.
Could bomb cyclones affect me?
Unfortunately, yes! Bomb Cyclones can occur anywhere. The Superstorm of 1993 (Storm of the Century) from March 12-13 is a prime example of a storm that underwent bombogenesis. The storm strengthened from 29.41 inches (996 MB) to 28.45 inches (963 MB), or nearly 1.00 inches (33 MB), in 24 hours. Much of this strengthening occurred over land. More pertinently, though - Coloradans will remember the bomb cyclone of March 13th, 2019. A devastating weather phenomenon, the bomb cyclone closed schools and stranded thousands in its freak storm. This storm created widespread blizzard conditions across northeast Colorado, Palmer Divide, and over El Paso County, with wind gusts from 60 to 80 mph, locally up to 100 mph. In addition, 1 to 3 feet of snow fell across the mountains with up to 52” at Wolf Creek Pass. This severe storm set new all-time record low barometric pressure readings in Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico. The impact was vast and widespread - snow drifted nearly to the roof of a house in Peyton, 1,400 flights at DIA were canceled, with virtually no planes flying in or out of the airport on Wednesday. Five thousand passengers spent the night at DIA due to cancellations. Roads were also severely impacted - several major highways and interstates were closed as the storm intensified. The I-25 closed from Colorado Springs to Denver and Denver to the Wyoming border. Both I-76 and I-70 closed east to Denver’s Nebraska and Kansas borders. Multiple car accidents occurred, with many people becoming stranded in their cars as the storm raged on. One thousand five hundred people were stranded over northern El Paso County alone.
What can I do when a surprise bomb cyclone hits?
Be cautious and aware. These intense storms could occur anytime and anywhere, but Colorado is a potentially vulnerable area, as we have already experienced. Here’s our advice for what to do when a bomb cyclone hits:
Pay attention to the weather reports - Try to keep yourself up to date and aware of local weather warnings so you can avoid going out if the conditions look likely to lead to a bomb cyclone and the prevailing conditions.
Stay home - Don’t leave the house if you don’t have to go out—the fewer people out in potentially life-threatening weather, the better.
Use good judgment on the road - keep a safe distance, make sure your tires have enough tread, make sure your lights are working correctly so you can communicate with other drivers.
Plan ahead for disasters - Keep sensible and appropriate supplies in your vehicle in case of emergencies. These could include a solar-crank flashlight, an up-to-date first aid kit, blankets, energy bars, and bottled water. Perhaps a glass breaker for extreme emergencies! Keep your gas topped up when possible as dangerous weather begins to threaten.
Don’t put off needed auto repairs - Always keep up to date with your car maintenance! When an emergency occurs, you may depend on your car for your family’s safe exit. Use a reflective surface to make sure all your lights are working -- as our team demonstrates here!
If you need maintenance on your vehicle, please schedule an appointment with Aurora AutoPros as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you soon. Also, we invite you to follow us on Facebook and our social media channels; and see what engaging, entertaining, educational, and fun things we share with our community.