Why is a bombogenesis off our East Coast called a “Bomb Cyclone”?

Dear Tom,

Why is a bombogenesis off our East Coast called a “Bomb Cyclone”?

Thanks,
Gregg Reynolds
Chicago

Dear Gregg,

Bombogenesis is a term applied to a rapidly intensifying low-pressure system in which the central pressure drops at least one millibar an hour for 24 hours. In terms of inches of mercury, that would equate to pressure falling at least .03 inches an hour for 24 hours. This type of rapid intensification often occurs with cold-season storm systems off the Atlantic Seaboard dubbed nor’easters, which produce many of the region’s major snowstorms. While not as common, these storms do occur in the Midwest. On Dec. 14-15,1987, a low-pressure system moving northeast from the southern plains “bombed out” on its track to southern lower Michigan, bringing the Chicago area a prolonged period of thundersnow that buried the city in 8 to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow.