A hurricane, a bomb and a winter storm: Meet the strangest weather event of the week

A magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck Saturday off the coast of Alaska. How could this happen? Scientists said it was a bomb cyclone. What’s a bomb cyclone? What would you call it if you, like scientists,…

A hurricane, a bomb and a winter storm: Meet the strangest weather event of the week

A magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck Saturday off the coast of Alaska. How could this happen?

Scientists said it was a bomb cyclone.

What’s a bomb cyclone?

What would you call it if you, like scientists, were surprised by an earthquake? Is it a hurricane? Is it a typhoon? Is it a blizzard?

The weather spotter at the University of Alaska Fairbanks described it as a bomb cyclone. He called it a “bomb that packs an explosive punch.” It was the strongest earthquake to hit the region since 1898. It surprised residents who typically live in Anchorage, the nation’s biggest city outside the lower 48 states.

The biggest blizzard to hit Anchorage since the storm of 1979 combined with another unnamed earthquake and a subsequent blast of Arctic air have all converged this week for the fourth bomb cyclone of the year.

The storm is moving slowly north. It was over the edge of Alaska and moving over the Tongass National Forest by Wednesday. It is not expected to hit Washington this weekend.

Suffice it to say, it’s been an interesting week.

As the weather writer Emily Jashinsky writes, bomb cyclones in the United States are so unusual, meteorologists, in the words of One Wisconsin Now, “had to search for proper terminology.”

Washington Post science writers Jenna Johnson and Melissa Bennetts contributed to this report.

What’s a bomb cyclone? A meteorological metaphor for the strongest temperatures on Earth. https://t.co/AJcv6qelHQ pic.twitter.com/ScjKBihOcX — Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) November 1, 2018

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