A large winter storm formed off the northeast US Coast on January 3 and 4, 2018. When winds from a storm like that blow from the northeast to land it’s called a nor’easter. When a storm like this forms very quickly, the pressure falls fast (at least 1 millbar per hour for 24 hours), it’s nicknamed a bomb because the growth is “explosive”. All storms worldwide are known as cyclones.
This all leads to numerous reports on social media of a cyclone bomb or a bomb cyclone. It’s just a phrase that’s new to non-meteorologists for a powerful winter storm that forms quickly. The phrase has been used occasionally by meteorologists at least since the 1980s. You may have heard “cyclogensis” which simply means the birth of a cyclone and maybe you heard “bombogenesis” which means the birth of a “bomb” cyclone. There are hundreds of unique terms used between meteorologists, just like there are many for other professions. They usually sound strange to those outside the profession. Here’s an extensive list of other weather words and phrases from the American Meteorological Society.
Large winter storms like this have wind and pressure equal to tropical storms and sometimes hurricanes. They create storm surge too. The USAF Reserve Hurricane Hunters do fly into these winter storms, at high levels, to take readings to help meteorologists understand them better.
Alan Sealls, Chief Meteorologist