Everything You Need to Know About California's Bomb Cyclone—and How to Help
A fast-forming bomb cyclone hit California on Wednesday afternoon. Here's what you need to know.
California doesn't do things halfway. When it's dry, it's really dry. And when it's stormy? Well, let's just say that the rain—and the wind, and the rising tides and rivers—can be intense. This is evidenced by the bomb cyclone that is currently hitting the West Coast, resulting in rampant flooding, power outages, felled trees, and general unease.
The bomb cyclone began forming off the coast earlier this week, swirling over the Pacific Ocean and toward the California coast, where it began to make landfall Wednesday afternoon. Now, residents of the state are dealing with the fallout of the strengthening storm.
What Is a Bomb Cyclone?
Also known as bombogenesis, a bomb cyclone is a rapidly developing storm, formed when a low-pressure system decreases in pressure by 24 millibars in 24 hours. The effect can occur when cold air collides with warm air, particularly over warm ocean waters, the Earth's turning resulting in the subsequent cyclone.
How Is the Bomb Cyclone Affecting California?
Photo: Anthony Martinez/@windaanthonypa
The years 2019-2022 saw California's driest years on record, leaving the earth bone dry and rife for future landslides. Now, as the bomb cyclone follows December's atmospheric rivers—a band of moisture that can instantly carry two to three times the volume of the Amazon River—sapped soil and land parched and devoid of vegetation due to wildfires are susceptible to a rapid reach of saturation points, leading to mudslides, erosion, and flash flooding.
Rainfall is expected to reach anywhere from 2-10 inches in various climates across the state, with coastal winds gusting at up to 85 mph and, thus far, leaving up to 100,000 residents of the Bay Area and Central Coast without power as the strong winds continue to take out lines. 90% of California's population is currently on flood watch.
The intensity of these storms is another aspect of the extreme weather seen around the world, a direct effect of climate change. A warming planet means warmer air, and warm air holds more moisture, making "big rain events" a standard part of our environmental future.
As the state's storms continue to worsen, many are wondering state's dam and levee systems will be enough to weather future storms, or if a new approach is needed.
How You Can Help
As Californians prep to ride out the storm by stocking up on fuel, sandbags, and drinking water, the primary humanitarian concern is for the safety of the state's unhoused population, many of whom make their homes near now overflowing creeks and rivers, and even in previously empty riverbeds.
Based in California? Here Are 5 Ways to Prepare for Wildfire Season
In California and beyond, some realities of climate change are unavoidable. Here are five ways to prepare for wildfire season.
California’s New Law Phases Out Single-Use Plastics—Here’s How That Benefits the Entire Country
California just passed a new law that's phasing out single-use plastics. Here's how that will benefit the entire United States.
California Is Fighting Climate Change by Turning Food Waste Into Energy
California is launching a food waste recycling program that's turning food scraps into compost or renewable energy to fight climate change.