British Columbians are experiencing extreme weather events like atmospheric rivers, heat domes, and now bomb cyclones. These storms occur when there is a rapid drop in air pressure, causing heavy rain and powerful winds. Environment Canada has issued warnings of strong winds, up to 90 km/h on Vancouver Island and 110 km/hour on Haida Gwaii, due to a bomb cyclone off the B.C. coast. The storms could be particularly destructive as weakened trees from the summer drought are more likely to break and cause power outages. Ferry sailings have been canceled to avoid the risks of high winds.
A bomb cyclone is essentially a cyclone that forms quickly. All storms are created when cold and warm weather systems collide, resulting in spiraling winds. To be classified as a bomb cyclone, there needs to be a drop of 24 millibars in air pressure within 24 hours. The term was coined in the 1980s by John R. Gyakum and Frederick Sanders to communicate the intensity of these storms during fall and winter. Bomb cyclones are not considered common but not rare either.
These storms can be devastating, as seen in the eastern United States in December 2022, where there was massive damage and fatalities. The impact of a bomb cyclone depends on its proximity to land. Currently, the forecast for B.C. suggests that the cyclone will pass by Vancouver Island and B.C.’s South Coast before heading north. However, if the system were to move closer to land, the winds could become stronger.
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