As people in the Atlantic Provinces hunker down and the winds pick up, satellites high above North America have been transmitting vivid images of the “bomb cyclone” currently making its way up the eastern seaboard.
On Wednesday night, NASA began sharing images of the water vapour patterns in the Atlantic, noting that the cyclone was “rapidly deepening.”
The bomb cyclone (or bombogenesis) was born as a result of a low-pressure system in which the barometric pressure fell at least 24 millibars (a measure of atmospheric pressure) within 24 hours. This normally happens when a cold air mass collides with a warm one.
By Thursday morning, NASA had enough imagery to produce this stunning 24-hour timelapse showing the storm’s rapid development:
Here’s another look at Thursday morning’s situation from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with a clear eye-like feature beginning to form at the storm’s centre.
While the bomb cyclone may look like a hurricane from high above and have comparable wind speeds, experts are cautioning that the two weather phenomena are totally different. Hurricanes feed off warm water, while the bomb cyclone forms when two masses of air cause a rapid drop in pressure.
NASA was even able to detect, and highlight, lightning forming within the monster winter storm (thundersnow) on Thursday morning.
As the storm approaches, Environment Canada has thrown just about every warning it has at Halifax. High winds, rain, snow and storm surges are all to be expected in the coming hours, the department says.