Bomb Cyclone and Winter Storm Riley: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Much of the Northeast is in for an early March winter storm. The storm that's expected to bring intense winter weather conditions across much of the interior of the Northeast will likely be accompanied by heavy rains and strong winds. Dubbed "winter storm Riley" by The Weather Channel, the storm is expected to begin in some areas as early as Thursday evening before it makes a full appearance Friday and into Saturday.

The strong storm that will likely drop inches of rain and snow across several state has been called a "bomb cyclone." While it sounds ominous, the term is simply used to describe a storm that has undergone bombogenesis, said Andrew Orrison, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center.

Bombogenesis is the more technical term used to describe a drop in the pressure in a storm. It's used specifically when the pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"A bomb cyclone is an area of low pressure where the intensification is very, very rapid and it basically reaches that threshold where you have a certain drop in the barometric pressure," Orrison told Newsweek.

Thus, the cyclone plus bombogenesis equals "bomb cyclone."

People in the Northeast can expect pretty severe weather conditions.

"We're going to be looking at multiple hazards over the next 24 to 36 hours," Orrison said.

The state of Massachusetts is preparing for the worst: Governor Charlie Baker activated the National Guard Thursday in preparation for the storm. Additionally, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned that the organization might not be able to rescue people who stay in their homes during potential flooding and high tides.

The storm was expected to bring about a foot of snow to the interior parts of New York and the mountains. What makes the snow even more significant is that it will likely be heavy and wet which brings a "pretty significant threat of down trees and down power lines," Orrison said.

Aside from the snow at higher elevations and inland, the coastline all along the Northeast should expect as much as two to three inches of rain, but possibly more, according to Orrison. This rain and the strong winds are what makes the threat of the significant coastal flooding a strong one.

"Driving conditions are certainly going to be hampered," said Orrison.

Residents in the areas that are expected to see the storm should do their best to prepare ahead of time. That preparation should include getting water and food and any supply necessary for a power outage.

The Department of Homeland Security's website on emergency preparedness recommended stocking up on enough supplies for three days, creating an emergency family connection plan and charging electronics and backup batteries.

Most of the areas expected to be affected by the storm were calm late Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, however, the storm was expected to pick up speed.

"It's going to be a good solid 24-hour period," Orrison said of the worst conditions.

Updates on the bomb cyclone and the threats associated with it can be found on the National Weather Service's website.

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A resident seen attempting to walk through the snow on 10th street after two days of record-breaking snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania, on December 27, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Frank