Blockbuster Bomb Nor’easter ready to roar along the U.S. East Coast into Maritime Canada with major impacts from Florida to New England and Canada

Dr. Ryan Maue writes:

Forecaster Jack Sillin has a fantastic blog on the synoptic scale ingredients associated with the storm here: Major Storm To Develop Off The East Coast Bringing Snow, Wind, And Cold so I’ll provide some additional thoughts about how to interpret and use a few tools we have here at without sacrificing technical detail. The key with any low-pressure system is tracking the central low pressure center or the “eye” of the storm.

A powerful nor’easter in March 2014 Image: NOAA

While this Nor’easter is “non-tropical” or extratropical, as it reaches maturity, it will share some characteristics with its tropical cousins: (1) a low-level central warm-core due to post-frontal warm air trapped by the bent-back warm-front = warm seclusions (2) hurricane force winds on the southern flank or periphery of the seclusion due to the superposition of the potential vorticity (PV) tower and tropopause fold (3) rapid intensification or pressure falls due to fueling of storm via diabatic heating or surface heat and moisture flux exchanges with the ocean surface as well as the upper-level baroclinic processes (jet stream).

The center of low pressure even 48-54 hours prior to the January 4, 2018 18z verification time is still somewhere uncertain probably to 50-100 miles spread around the ensemble mean. The following figures are mean-sea level pressure “ensemble mean” from the ECMWF EPS (12z). The model is initialized from the same starting analysis except for very small perturbations made to generate tiny differences or errors that will grow throughout the forecast. For a storm track like this one or tropical storms & hurricanes, the “spaghetti” or ensemble tracks are shown to highlight the uncertainty in the location of the storm at any given time.

eps cyclones


Here is a link to this GIF

Behind the strong low pressure is a heavy-duty, record cold air mass associated with the #PolarVortex or the tropospheric manifestation of the polar front and air mass with origins from Arctic Canada as well as Greenland. The upper-level flow configuration is like a giant “Omega” or a bell with the curly appendages on the outside being troughs with the ridge in the middle. (see Animated GIF). The jet stream takes on the characteristic S-shape as the cyclone undergoes rapid intensification or “bombs” out along the East Coast. Bombing is simply the rapid decrease or drop in surface barometric pressure of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours and significations intensification or strengthening of the storm system. The jet stream, trough of low pressure and the warm, moist ocean surface provide multiple sources of fuel (diabatic and baroclinic) to transfer the potential energy in the system to kinetic energy or the monster storm.

More on specific impacts such as wind gusts, snowfall – even in Florida and the Carolinas – and other impacts along the New England coastline in my next update.

Be sure to visit and as well as Dr. Maue’s blog

60 thoughts on “Blockbuster Bomb Nor’easter ready to roar along the U.S. East Coast into Maritime Canada with major impacts from Florida to New England and Canada

  1. Nice to see clear references to diabatic heating, potential energy and kinetic energy just as I’ve been telling you all about for years in connection with the effects of conduction and convection on surface temperatures beneath an atmosphere.
    A storm of this nature is just an extreme example of underlying atmospheric processes.

      • Looks like the author is referring to latent heat release in upper level condensation when he refers to diabatic heating and not to the adiabatic element so best not pursue the issue here or it will derail the thread.

      • The jet stream, trough of low pressure and the warm, moist ocean surface provide multiple sources of fuel (diabatic and baroclinic) to transfer the potential energy in the system to kinetic energy

        The author meant exactly what they said.

      • Open mouth, insert feet.

        From NOAA national Weather Service’s glossary

        A process which occurs with the addition or loss of heat. The opposite of adiabatic. Meteorological examples include air parcels warming due to the absorption of infrared radiation or release of latent heat.”


        “An ADIABATIC process deals with the changing temperature of a parcel of air due to the air rising adiabatically or sinking adiabatically. An adiabatic process assumes no heat, mass or momentum pass across the air parcel boundary. The DIABATIC process on the other hand is any temperature change of air not related to its adiabatic vertical displacement.”

        Dr. Ryan Maue, definitely knows what he is describing, and is describing it correctly.

    • Tracking atmospheric water vapor is a kind of a follow-the-money move
      when watching systems slide across the continent and join with ocean-
      based activity:

      Off topic of our “bomb”, but notice the interesting whirl headed toward the
      southern tip of South America aimed for the Chilean/Argentine border…
      where they supposedly don’t have typhoons/hurricanes.

      • They don’t have tropical hurricanes you mean. Ever heard of the “roaring forties”? The only times I’ve personally experienced hurricane winds was in this area (the Drake passage).

  2. Been a little western trend in the models as we get close to integration of systems. It will be very interesting if we have a 100 mile west jog. Note, the models are typically reflecting a 10 to 1 ratiosnow/precip ratio. Some seasoned mets are suggesting a possible 20 to 1.

    An example here at the moment. Subject to change in the situation coming.

  3. Yep … this weather business is tricky and takes a lot of skill (unlike climate forecasts). Like today’s blizzard that hit … we didn’t get a blizzard warning here in Buffalo until after it hit this afternoon with sustained winds of 30-40 mph, freezing our bunnies off, and loads of snow with white-out conditions. With any luck, by the weekend, Lake Erie will be frozen over and those lake effect snows will be gone.

    Now if we could just get some of that global warming stuff these religious kooks keep preaching about.

      • Compared to what? Compared to the Little Ice Age, absolutely. Compared to the earlier warm periods in the last 2000 years, maybe not.

  4. If you want a cooler world, as the alarmists do, or if (and when) we get a natural cooling cycle like being predicted right now, then expect a whole lot of weather like this storm and the vicious cold snap northern North America has been having the last 10 days. Hopefully that 1/3 – 1/2 degree C from CO2 the last 150 years is already baked and hard wired into the background temps. The stakes are much too severe with soon to be 8 billion people on the planet to risk screwing up up our energy infrastructure with alternatives that do not exist at scale to replace fossil fuels. If we really need to replace fossil fuels sooner than later in the scheme of things (and that day will come for some future generation) then we would be much better off laying the groundwork and developing a future Manhattan project to develop a new generation of nuclear generation assets and a robust electrical grid to convert most of our energy requirements to electricity. I seriously doubt that electricity, in some form or another, cannot be the energy of the future. Hard to come up with anything better. But renewables like wind and solar have minimal energy density relative to output and longevity, not to mention honest costs over their short lifespans. The primary and distribution power lines could be upgraded and ‘hardened’ now with Nat Gas making a significant contribution to the effort. Ironically, the USA is doing just such for present generation.

  5. I’m sure this storm is of great interest to weather geeks. But Noreaster’s happen. As do hurricanes. The coastal areas threatened probably are in the everything_that_can_wash_away_has_washed_away state. And snow’s snow. You shovel it out of the way and wait for the next storm.

    I’m more concerned about that massive blob of very cold air along the Canadian border. From what I read this could expose a large area of Ontario, Quebec, and the Northeast to near record low temperatures late this week and over the weekend. Not just daily record lows, January low records. On top of the very cold temps late last week and last weekend, that could be a serious problem.

  6. Talking about South America. Its the coldest summer I ever remember here in Paraguay! 22C is unheard of at 8AM 3jan.!!!

  7. here we already have Eleanor, european windstorm with serious force 10-12 gales just shy of hurricane level windfiekds….

  8. No worries, a tax will eradicate these storms 😉

    Interesting informative article, thanks.

    • “Let It Snow”, “Winter Wonderland”, and “Jingle Bells” are usually played during the Christmas season, but listen to the actual lyrics- they deal with “Winter”, not specifically Christmas. It’s not inappropriate to play those tunes any time during the winter.

    • On its forefront, this “bomb” advises warm air far north. This warm air cuts a swathe into the jet stream and introduces Europe into a colder weather section.

    • Great! In Markey’s backyard or one of them anyway. He spends most of his time living in the DC swamp though.

      • You are either a west coast type or a noreaster. I don’t live in Myrtle Beach but it is far more beautiful than ny, nj, california or baaahston. Your knee-jerk opinion won’t change that.

      • I spent a year working in Myrtle Beach back in 1982. I delivered furniture to time-sharing condos that were popping up like mushrooms. It was rough having to work when it seemed like everyone was on vacation. The good side was often I’d deliver furniture where a party was going on, and it would have been rude not to accept the free drinks. Come to think of it, I don’t remember all that much about that year, except I was fairly happy most of the time. Like most beaches, a wonderful place if you love the sea.

    • I don’t … Obozo the climate clown really annoyed me whenever he stood up in Alaska and lectured on GLO-BULL warming from a script prepared for him by the alarmist loons of the left.

  9. Geeze … weather “bombs” … polar “vortexes” (or is it vortaii ?). Boring weatherfolk suddenly discovered a thesaurus and unemployed Marketing copywriters. I’ve always called it … Winter.

    • In 32 years as a meteorologist I never came across the term “Weather bomb”.
      Smacks of media in there somewhere.
      Either a journalist or a TV “Weathercaster” coined it I suspect, and it stuck… because we have to dumb things down don’t we(?)
      Vortexes yes.

  10. Forget all this technical jargon. Where is the explanation how this storm was intensified by climate change? Where is Mann when you need him?

  11. When will the leftista’s call this a winter hurricane, something that’s never happened before, and it’s all due to globull warming. Please send money. :-0

  12. A question.
    Would “The Long Island Express” fall into this category? That is, the same weather conditions (not effects) that would qualify it as a “bomb” cyclone?

    • No, the Long Island express was a full blown major hurricane down in the tropics, and actually weakened as it came north. What made it so devastating was that it came north so fast. It was moving north at between 50 mph and 60 mph when it made landfall on Long Island. Even though it weakened it still had far more of its strength than most hurricanes. There’s thankfully few such hurricanes in New England’s historical record, going back to the 1600’s.

  13. Toneb, the term “meteorological bomb” as expressing explosive cyclogenesis that occurs in extratropical cyclones was, I believe, coined by Prof. Lance Bosart in the late 1970s, and has been used along the U.S. northeast coast since that time. I never cared much for the term “bombogenesis,” though.

  14. Plow trucks all fueled up expecting almost 18″ here but the wind and drifts are gonna hurt. Multi day cleanup event

  15. In southern NH this storm was the real deal, over a foot of snow roughly between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM, with strong winds making it hard to see at times. Temperatures rose from single digits to twenty-five and then crashed again. Pressure fell to 28.88 and we were far from the center. Nothing we haven’t seen before, though more windy than many.

    Powder snow is light and not so hard to clear up. Also the storm didn’t hang around. The really bad storms up here come up the coast and then stall, and it snows for days. Also the snow gets wet and heavy, and is much harder to clear up.

    We had a powder-snow storm like this in early February 1978, that the media hyped as a once-every-hundred-year storm. Then we had a thaw that turned all the snowbanks to cruddy mounds that were like concrete after they refroze. After a big storm went up the Ohio Valley, we had a second and even huger storm in late February that stalled and was heavy, wet snow. With the iron hard snowbanks on the sides of the roads it was hard to clear the streets and Boston was shut down for a week. When the media also hyped the second storm as a once-every-hundred-year storm my B.S. alarm went off, as I figured you should wait a hundred years between once-every-hundred-year storms, not three weeks. Haven’t trusted the media much ever since.

    In any case, if a thaw follows don’t assume winter is over.

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