Pacific Northwest Bomb Cyclone Update as Washington, Oregon Brace for Major Storm

The Pacific Northwest is bracing itself for a series of storms including what is known as a "bomb cyclone," which is expected to bring heavy rain and wind over the weekend and into next week.

Forecasters have said the system currently developing off the coast will in some ways rival the intensity of strong hurricanes from the Atlantic this season and rain will smash parts of California, Oregon and Washington.

The term "bomb" cyclone is a relatively new one. It was used for decades among meteorologists to describe a rapidly strengthening storm, but only came into common parlance in 2018, the network KXLY reported.

A study in 1980 defined a weather bomb, which is also sometimes called bombogenesis, as a rapid drop in pressure of 24 millibars in 24 hours, the Spokane, Washington network said.

The latest system is expected on Thursday to bring winds of up to 70 mph, similar to those of a strong tropical storm. There are wind warnings in place for coastal British Columbia, Canada, while winds on the Washington and Oregon coasts are forecast to be much milder, at around 30 to 40 mph.

Joe Boomgard-Zagrodnik, an agricultural meteorologist for Washington State University, predicted that the storm would "explode out of nowhere."

"What is remarkable is how big it is in scale, how deep the center is and the speed with which it goes from an open wave to a super-intense low-pressure system," Boomgard-Zagrodnik said, according to The Seattle Times.

The storm, bringing plenty of wind and rain, will also act as a catalyst for other storms of lesser intensity targeting the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada, according to AccuWeather.

"Strong wind gusts of 40-50 mph can also be expected for coastal sections of Washington and Oregon from Wednesday to Thursday," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Randy Adkins.

Wind Damage May Be Minor

Waves over the coastal Northwest could head as far north as the Aleutian Islands, "but with the center of the bomb cyclone forecast to remain offshore, wind damage will be relatively minor and will certainly pale in comparison to the bomb cyclone from Thanksgiving week in 2019," Adkins added.

Conditions are likely to stay stormy in the coastal Northwest into next week and head southward through the Southern California coast next week.

Emily Heller, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Sacramento office, said the heaviest rain near the Californian capital is expected Sunday and Monday, The Sacramento Bee reported.

However, the expected rain dump comes at an opportune time for the Golden State where Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of drought.

"One storm is great, but we're going to need a couple to get us back to a robust and healthy storage condition," Erik Ekdahl, from the State Water Resources Control Board, told board members, according to The Bee.

National Weather Service graphic
This forecast image by the National Weather Service shows storm systems that will hit the North West. California, Washington and Oregon are bracing themselves for a so-called "bomb cyclone." National Weather Service