Bomb Cyclone To Pack Snow, High Winds, Blizzard

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  • A massive winter storm tracks the central and eastern United States to end the week.
  • The heaviest snow falls on the Great Lakes and can exceed 1 foot in some areas.
  • 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.

Winter Storm Elliot tracks the Great Plains, Midwest, and Great Lakes with snow and high winds, increasing the likelihood of a bomb cyclone, including blizzard conditions.

Elliott will also bring high winds and potential flash freezes to parts of the Midwest, East, and South.

( detail: The bitter cold air reaches Elliot)

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

Currently being held

Snow is currently falling from parts of the Great Lakes to the lower Mississippi. Another area of ​​snow, sleet, and freezing rain stretches across the northeastern interior.

(Live update: Eliot’s influence in the Plains, Midwest, and Great Lakes)


Strong winds of 50 miles per hour (locally higher) are blowing across the plains as the cold front passes. Even in areas where the snow ended with strong winds, blizzards are affecting travel.

Significant drops in temperature also extend to the central provinces.


A Blizzard Warning has been issued for parts of the Northern Plains, Midwest, and Great Lakes, as indicated by the pink polygons in the map below. These warnings include Buffalo, New York, Des Moines, Iowa, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Pierre, South Dakota.

Winter Severe Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for a much wider area, extending from the upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and MidSouth. Among the cities included are Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville and Memphis.

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.


Below, we discuss timing, snow forecasts, wind forecasts, and other impacts of this storm, followed by the bomb cyclone outlook and how this storm aligns with other December and all-time Great Lakes storms. I will explain if there is

Predicted timing


Storms peak in parts of the Great Lakes with strong winds, snow, and blizzard conditions from northern and eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois to Michigan, northern Indiana, northern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and western New York. I guess.

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

Strong winds are also expected in many parts of the East, including Georgia and Carolina.


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 in many of the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi Valley. These winds blowing across the Great Lakes can 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 snow?

Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes

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.

Parts of Wisconsin, northeastern Illinois, and much of the rest outside the Michigan lake snowbelt can receive up to 6 inches of snow.

Further south, wide areas from the Central Plains to central Mississippi and the Ohio Valley could see at least a few inches of snow. And at least the low total snow cover can make roads as slippery south as they are in northern Missouri, northern Arkansas, and parts of Tennessee.


In the highlands of the Central Appalachians, Adirondacks, Green Mountains, and White Mountains, they can total over 6 inches.

Heavy snow is also expected in the Eastern Great Lakes snow belt this weekend, with a total of 1 foot of snow in the Lake Erie and Ontario snow belts in northeastern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania, western New York, and upstate New York, including Buffalo and Watertown. There is a possibility.


Threat of strong winds

Strong winds are the most widespread impact from Elliott.

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

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


Model Predicted Pressure, Friday Wind

(The areas shaded red are areas of low pressure. Forecast winds are indicated by arrows, and the strongest forecast winds are indicated by dark blue and purple arrows.)

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.

Lakeshore flooding is also expected Friday through Saturday night along the eastern shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in western and northern New York. He’s only reached this level three times in Buffalo since the mid-1970s, according to the NWS. It can flood flood-prone areas near the lake, such as South Buffalo’s Old First Ward.

(This forecast shows winds at noon on Friday. Note that strong winds will start earlier in some areas and last much longer in others.)

Other threats

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

First, snow squalls are likely as the Arctic cold front sweeps across the plains, Midwest, and East.

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 the Ohio Valley and parts of the East before the cold front on Thursday through Friday.

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

Bomb cyclone perspective

We mentioned earlier that this winter storm could turn into 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 Elliot 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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