'The bomb' heads our way

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BRATTLEBORO — The term "bombogenesis" sounds like something from a science-fiction movie, but according to Rob Miller, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, the designation has been in usage for quite some time.

"It's an official meteorological term," said Miller. "The technical definition defines it as when an area of low pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours or less. In layman's terms, it means a storm is rapidly strengthening."

Miller said while it's an event that doesn't happen every year, it's far from rare, and what is driving this one off the coast of New England is the Arctic air that has been in place colliding with the relatively mild air over the Atlantic Ocean.

"When you have temperatures in the teens and single digits colliding with warm ocean air in the 50-to-60 degree range there is a large temperature gradient that that drives a storm," he said.

Bombogenesis is also the phenomenon behind some hurricanes, creating what meteorologists call a "bomb cyclone."

The clash of air masses has nowhere to go but up from the ocean surface, which lifts moisture that is later deposited as snow, in this case.

Locally, said Miller, the tri-state region can expect two to four inches, starting between 6 and 7 a.m. on Thursday, lingering until the evening hours. Miller said there will also be wind gusts of up to 40 mph, meaning there could be a lot of blowing and drifting snow throughout the day.

Snow totals will increase closer to the coast, with upwards of one foot accumulating between Boston and Portland, Maine, accompanied by blizzard conditions, said Miller.

Temperatures will rise a little bit, into the 20s on Thursday, but will plummet again Friday and Saturday night, reaching 10 to 20 degrees below zero.

But, Miller said, there is hope on the horizon. Though there might be a mild storm passing through Sunday, with about one inch of snow falling, temperatures will rise to a more seasonable level next week.

"It will feel great after suffering through 15 below zero," he said.

Local insulation and weatherization company, Farnum Insulators, Inc., is having a little fun with the cold weather. The East Dummerston company is hosting an icicle photo contest for area homeowners in an effort to educate them about heat loss and energy savings.

Based on their icicle photo submitted, one homeowner a month from January through March will win a home energy audit worth $450. In April, the three energy audit winners will qualify for additional prizes, including $100 or $250 towards any weatherization upgrade or a wool hat and socks.

"Icicles may be an indication of heat loss," said Farnum's Jeff Dunbar. "We jokingly ask homeowners how they feel about being in the icicle making business. Our job is to put them out of that business and into the business of keeping the heat in their home where it belongs. We thought a contest would be a fun way to bring awareness to the more sinister side of icicles on homes."

Homeowners are invited to email photos of their most prized icicles currently hanging from their eaves to icicles@farnuminsulators.com.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.


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