Bomb Cyclone Packs High Winds, Snow, Blizzard

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  • Massive winter storms are intensifying in the Midwest and East.
  • The heaviest additional snow targets the Great Lakes snowbelt and can exceed a foot in some cases.
  • High winds, which could damage trees and cause power outages, could blow much of the Midwest and East.
  • Snow, wind and cold weather can greatly affect your trip.
  • Rackshore flooding can be severe near Buffalo, New York, and coastal flooding can occur along the northeast coast.

Winter storm Elliot is intensifying into a blast-prone cyclone near the Great Lakes, bringing strong winds, snow, and blizzard conditions from the Northern Plains to western and northern New York.

Elliott is also having treacherous travel impacts from massive Great Lakes shore flooding, coastal flooding to parts of the northeast coast, and momentary freezing to parts of the south and east.

( detail: The bitter cold air reaches Elliot)

Let’s see where the storm is now and what will happen.

Currently being held

Right now, it’s snowing from the Great Lakes to the Appalachian Mountains. And parts of northern New England will soon turn to rain.

Rain is soaking much of the remaining northeast ahead of a fast-moving Arctic cold front.

(Live update: Elliot’s Extensive Influence)


The plains behind the Arctic cold front and the Midwest experience occasional winds of 30 to 40 mph or more. This creates blizzards and snow drifts that make travel dangerous even in areas where the snowfall has ended.

The strongest gusts of wind are hitting parts of the Appalachian Mountains and New England.Gusts of over 50 mph reported Friday morning Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts.

A significant drop in temperature also extends to the east.


Blizzard warnings remain in effect for the Northern Plains, upper Midwest, and parts of the Great Lakes, as indicated by the pink polygons in the map below. These warnings include Buffalo, New York, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Pierre, South Dakota.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect for a much wider region, extending from the upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Among the cities included are Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Nashville.

Travel should be avoided in many of these areas as it may make travel difficult or impossible. That’s not only because of the snow, but also because of the high winds and extreme cold.


Predicted timing


The storm will reach its peak intensity with gales extending east from the Midwest and Great Lakes and as far south as Georgia and Carolina.

This will leave blizzard conditions in the Plains and upper Midwest and intensify in parts of Michigan, the West, and upstate New York.

Snowfall is limited to the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Lakes.

Rain in the Northeast, or rain turning to snow, will continue to cause intense cold, flash freezing, and icy conditions in some areas.


Forecast for Friday Precipitation, wind

(In this forecast, along with precipitation areas, arrows indicate where strong wind areas are.)


By Saturday, the storm will move into eastern Canada, but strong winds are likely to persist across much of the Great Lakes, upper Mississippi Valley, and parts of the northeast. These winds blowing across the Great Lakes produce heavy lake-effect snow bands that can last until Christmas Day in the eastern Great Lakes.

In addition, areas outside the Midwest lake belt, which has seen snow in the last few days, are expected to remain blizzards and snow drifts.

how much more snow


More than a foot of snow can fall in the western Great Lakes snow belt, with winds blowing the lakes increasing snowfall in the leeward of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, the upper peninsula, western Michigan, and the northernmost parts of northern Indiana. I guess.

Otherwise, much of the rest of Michigan could experience additional total snow cover, typically less than 6 inches, all the way up to northern Ohio.


Total snow cover is typically expected to be less than 6 inches in the highlands of western and northern New England before precipitation turns to rain on Friday.

The highest total snowfall is in the eastern Great Lakes snow belt over the weekend, with western New York, including Buffalo and Watertown, and the Lake Erie and Ontario snow belts in upstate New York, totaling more than 1 foot. increase.

Near Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania, and in the Adirondacks, they can total over 6 inches.

Otherwise, light winds of 1-2 inches are usually expected from the Appalachian Mountains to central New York behind the Arctic front.


Threat of strong winds

Strong winds are the most widespread impact from Elliott.

The strongest winds from this storm are expected Friday through early Saturday in the Midwest and along the East Coast from New England to Georgia on Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued a strong wind warning for parts of the east from upstate New York and New England, including the Boston metropolitan area, and the Appalachian Mountains.


wind alert

(Note: Other high wind regions of the Great Lakes and Northern Plains are covered by either a snowstorm warning or a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service.)

These winds, combined with snow accumulations that squeeze trees and power lines, especially in the Midwest and East, can topple tree branches and rob power. Plan ahead for possible power outages in cold climates.

Even in areas with low total snowfall, visibility can be dangerously reduced by high winds and snow accumulations, as well as drifting snow on roads, especially in rural areas.


Winds also lead to areas of coastal flooding.

Light to moderate coastal flooding is expected from high tide late Friday night or afternoon from the southern Delmarva Peninsula to parts of the New England coast, including Long Island and the Jersey Shore.

Significant lakeshore flooding is also expected Saturday along the southern shores of Lake Superior in northern Michigan and the eastern shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in western and upstate New York.

Buffalo has reached this level only once since the mid-1970s, according to the NWS. It can inundate flood-prone areas near lakes, such as Old First Ward in South Buffalo, a sort of rocking back and forth on Lake Erie known as the seiche.

Other threats

There are two other things that could pose a hazard to your driving in this storm.

First, squalls can occur when the Arctic cold front passes through the northeast.

These are snow bursts, but they are short, usually lasting less than an hour. They are dangerous because visibility drops quickly and roads become slippery with a thin film of snow.

Multiple vehicle accidents can and do occur during these snow squalls, especially on major highways with heavy traffic. Keep that in mind even if the snow isn’t accumulating in bulk. Instead, it can bring you down in these short-lived bursts.

Second, there is the possibility of flash freezing. This occurs when rain wets the pavement, followed by an Arctic cold front that quickly brings sub-zero air.

Rapidly arriving cold air turns remaining water on untreated roads into patches of ice, making travel slippery and dangerous, especially on bridges and overpasses.

This is certainly possible in parts of the East ahead of Friday’s cold front.

(map: 10-day US forecast high/low)

Bomb cyclone perspective

Earlier we mentioned that this winter storm is expected to become a bomb cyclone.

As a rule of thumb, meteorologists call a storm ‘bombed out’ or undergoing bombogenesis when the minimum surface pressure drops by at least 24 millibars within 24 hours, but that criterion also depends on the latitude of the storm.

Meteorologists often discuss pressure in millibars rather than inches of mercury.

The reason this is important beyond just geeky stats is that the lower the storm pressure, the more intense the storm. Also, the greater the regional pressure difference, the stronger the wind.

(more: What is Bomb Cyclone?)

Winter Storm Elliott May Plunge into Potentially Threatening Pressure December cyclone record over the Great Lakesaccording to data compiled by meteorologist David Roth of the NOAA Center for Weather Prediction.

At this time, the latest ensemble model projections indicate that Elliott’s low has not reached what is considered the highest-ever record low in late January 1978, the so-called “Cleveland Superbomb.”

Still, the combination of wind, snow, cold, snow squalls, and momentary freezing will make your trip a headache.

If you live in these areas or have travel plans before Christmas, monitor the forecast closely and be prepared to make alternative travel arrangements. Please check back at for important forecast updates.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on the latest weather news, the environment, and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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