This weather pattern — the “bomb cyclone” — is a subzero version of a hurricane.
Unforgiving cold has punished the eastern third of the United States for the past 10 days. But the most severe winter weather yet will assault the area late this week.
First, a monster storm will hammer coastal locations from Georgia to Maine with ice and snow. By Thursday, the exploding storm will, in many ways, resemble a winter hurricane, battering easternmost New England with potentially damaging winds in addition to blinding snow.
Forecasters are expecting the storm to become a so-called “bomb cyclone” because its pressure is predicted to fall so fast, an indicator of explosive strengthening. The storm could rank as the most intense over the waters east of New England in decades at this time of year. While blizzard conditions could paste some coastal areas, the most extreme conditions will remain well out over the ocean.
In the storm’s wake, the mother lode of numbing cold will crash south — likely the last but most bitter in brutal blasts since Christmas Eve.
The responsible storm is forecast to begin taking shape off the coast of Florida Wednesday, unloading hazardous snow and ice in highly unusual locations not accustomed to such weather. The National Weather Service has already posted winter storm watches from Lake City, Fla. to Norfolk
It is then expected to rapidly intensify, buffeting the Mid-Atlantic beaches and eastern New England, where winter storm watches have also been issued.
Even though I live in South Florida, I am not gloating about this storm. No one gloated about Hurricane Irma, and this weather could be on the same scale, at least in terms of the danger to lives, for the people in the storm’s path. And since I have been through more severe cold blasts than I care to count during my years in Michigan and Minnesota (I recall a beautiful sunny morning in Minneapolis in January 1977 when it was -17 F), I speak from experience when I tell those of you up north to be very careful and remember your pets; they can’t tolerate the cold unprotected any more than you can.