A strengthening low pressure system is rapidly deepening in the western Great Plains. It has been referred to as a “bomb cyclone”, due to its quick drop in pressure. Meteorologists measure pressure by using millibars. For a cyclone to be labeled as a “bomb cyclone”, it must drop 24 millibars in a 24 hour period, according to the National Weather Service. The technical term for this process is called explosive cyclogenesis.
The photo on the left shows the deepening low pressure center, which is down to 974 mb as of 2 PM Thursday in southeast Colorado, per the College of DuPage’s Nexlab satellite viewer. Notice the short distance between the isobars — this is indicative of strong winds which are developing as a part of this system.
As of Thursday afternoon, the system was creating blizzard conditions in the northern Great Plains, while also driving high winds and rain to the southern Great Plains and portions of the Midwest. The system is expected to move to the north and east over the next day or so, which will bring impacts to northeast Indiana and western Ohio. Severe weather watches and warnings span over 1300 miles from the United States/Canada border down to the United States/Mexico border.
The primary weather story will be with strong wind gusts late tonight, lasting through the day on Thursday. At their peak, wind gusts will top out from 45-50+ mph, which could result in isolated power outages and the scattering of objects, so be sure to tie down and secure any loose items that are outdoors.
This powerful storm system will bring a line of thunderstorms into the area Thursday afternoon and evening, which when combined with the strong wind gusts, could create an environment for severe weather here. For this reason, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma has the WANE 15 viewing area in the “Slight Risk” category for severe thunderstorms, with damaging wind gusts as the primary risk.