WeatherTalk: Some journalists love to say 'bomb cyclone'

Old-fashioned meteorologists tend to roll our eyes at these usages, but the term is actually not wrong in this case.

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A powerful rainstorm the past several days has bombarded portions of central and northern California with high winds, heavy rainfall and nasty wave action with beach erosion. Journalists reporting on the stormy weather have been quick to pounce on the opportunity to use the phrase "bomb cyclone." Old-fashioned meteorologists like this one tend to roll our eyes at these usages because of the obvious "gotcha" writing, but the term is actually not wrong in this case.

A bomb cyclone is, by meteorological definition, a low-pressure system that rapidly strengthens, specifically requiring a drop in surface, reduced to sea-level air pressure, of 24 millibars within 24 hours. Such a drop in air pressure in a storm almost always brings consequences of strong wind and often also brings heavy precipitation. The term does apply in this case. However, the glee with which non-meteorologist journalists use the term, often without explaining it, is what gripes this crabby, old meteorologist.

John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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