On Tuesday night, a nor’easter rainstorm that intensified into a bomb cyclone disrupted everyday life across the U.S. Northeast, leaving more than 6,00,000 homes and businesses without power.
Accompanied by torrential downpours and hurricane-force winds, the enormous storm also triggered a flood watch for more than 31 million of the U.S. population in the Northeast.
“A strong storm off the Pacific Northwest will continue directing a stream of heavy rain, high elevation snow, and gusty to high winds over much of central and northern California, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Great Basin,” the National Weather Service tweeted on October 25.
Weather records clocked the winds reaching speeds of up to 60 miles an hour in Long Island and even 90 miles an hour across Massachusetts. As people were stranded amidst the heavy deluge, rescue personnel carried out several high-water rescue operations.
The Guardian reported the loss of at least one life due to the effects of the rainstorm. Home and business owners across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine suffered power outages as hurricane-force winds knocked down power lines and trees.
Although the region is frequently affected by nor’easters – rainstorms from the Northeast, usually New England – the storm system worsened after a sudden pressure drop. Overnight, the pressure dropped from 1008 millibars to 980, numbers that met the criteria to label the storm a bomb cyclone.
The U.S. west coast has had to endure the wrath of two storms over the weekend – the bomb cyclone and the atmospheric river across most parts of California. The atmospheric river also caused heavy destruction, causing mudslides triggered by heavy downpours.
Although the heavy rains also acted as natural firefighters, extinguishing California wildfires burning all summer, the downpour increased the risk of further landslides.
With worsening weather conditions, discussions over the effects of climate change are back in the headlines. “It is worth noting that this exact situation – a powerful atmospheric river bringing a brief period of record rainfall amid severe and temperature-amplified drought – is what we expect to see in California with #ClimateChange,” tweeted Daniel Swain of Weather West.
Bomb cyclone refers to storms that develop at a surprising and highly explosive pace. An MIT student-professor duo coined this term to draw attention to the destruction such storms are capable of causing.