Bomb Cyclone Packs High Winds, Snow, Blizzard | will it snow in florida

  • A major winter storm is intensifying in the Midwest and East.
  • The heaviest additional snow will target the Great Lakes snowbelts, with over a foot possible for some.
  • High winds capable of tree damage and power outages could blast much of the Midwest and East.
  • Severe travel impact because of snow, wind and cold is expected.
  • Lakeshore flooding will be severe near Buffalo, New York, and coastal flooding has occurred from the Mid-Atlantic to Maine.

W​inter Storm Elliott intensified into a bomb cyclone near the Great Lakes, bringing high winds, snow and blizzard conditions from the Northern Plains to western and upstate New York.

E​lliott is also bringing significant Great Lakes lakeshore flooding, coastal flooding to parts of the Northeast seaboard, and dangerous travel impacts from a flash freeze to parts of the South and East.

(​MORE: Brutally Cold Air Arrives With Elliott)​

H​ere’s a look at where the storm is now and what’s to come.

H​appening Now

S​now is falling right now from the Great Lakes and has developed in the Northeast after changing from rain. Blizzard conditions continue from the Upper Midwest into the southern Great Lakes where snowfall from the sky has stopped but strong winds continue.

R​ain is still soaking coastal New England ahead of the fast-moving arctic cold front.

(​LIVE UPDATES: Elliott’s Widespread Impacts)


Friday morning, E​lliott met the criterion to be considered a bomb cyclone, an area of low pressure that intensifies rapidly.

(​MORE: What Is A Bomb Cyclone?)

Winds are still gusting over 30 mph, at times over a broad area of the Plains, Midwest and South behind the arctic cold front. That’s producing areas of b​lowing and drifting snow, making travel hazardous even in areas where falling snow has ended.


T​he strongest wind gusts are hammering parts of New England and the Great Lakes, where some gusts over 70 mph have been clocked.

Among these were a 79 mph gust clocked by a New York State mesonet station on the Skyway in downtown Buffalo, a 75 mph gust off the coast of Maine south of Acadia National Park, and a 71 mph gust in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

T​hese winds produced whiteout conditions in Buffalo, with a rarely-measured “zero visibility” observation at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport Friday, eventually forcing the airport to close.

I​n the upper Midwest and Northern Plains, snow has long since ended, but strong winds are producing ground blizzard conditions with considerable blowing and drifting snow, especially in outlying areas.

T​he strong winds also caused a seiche on Lake Erie. Lakeshore flooding and high waves occurred on the lake’s eastern end near Hamburg, New York, while on the western end, water levels reached their lowest levels on record.

B​lizzard warnings remain in effect for parts of the Northern Plains, upper Midwest and Great Lakes, as illustrated by the pink polygons in the map below. Those warnings include Buffalo, Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Fargo, North Dakota.

W​inter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect from the upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Among the cities included are Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

T​ravel should be avoided in many of these areas since it could become difficult or impossible. That’s not just because of the snow, but also strong winds and extreme cold.


If that wasn’t enough, strong winds coupled with Friday’s high tide pushed water ashore along parts of the Eastern Seaboard, from the Mid-Atlantic coast to Maine.

Water levels reached major flood stage along parts of the Jersey Shore, including Sandy Hook.​ Serious flooding was reported in Cape Cod, and along the coast of Maine.

F​orecast Timing


B​y Saturday, the storm will move away into eastern Canada, but strong winds will likely linger in much of the Great Lakes, upper Mississippi Valley and parts of the Northeast. Those winds blowing over the Great Lakes will produce bands of heavy lake-effect snow that could last into Christmas Day in the eastern Great Lakes.

Also, lingering areas of blowing and drifting snow are expected outside the lake snowbelts in the Midwest where snow fell the previous few days.

H​ow Much More Snow?

T​he heaviest snow totals will be on the eastern side of each of the Great Lakes into the weekend, with total snowfall totals in the multiple feet range in the Lake Michigan, Superior, Erie and Ontario snowbelts of westen and northern Michigan, western New York and upstate New York, including much of Michigan, Buffalo and Watertown.


High W​ind Threat

High winds will be the most widespread impact from Elliott.

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

T​he National Weather Service has issued high wind warnings for parts of the East from New England, including the Boston metro area, to the Appalachians.


Wind Alerts

(Note: Other areas of high winds in the Great Lakes and Northern Plains are covered by either blizzard warnings or winter storm warnings from the National Weather Service.)

T​hese winds will be capable of downing tree limbs and knocking out power, particularly where they combine with snow accumulations weighing down trees and power lines in the Midwest and East. Plan ahead now for the potential for power outages in cold weather if you live in these areas.

Even areas of lower snowfall totals may see dangerous reductions in visibility due to strong winds combined with snow and also drifting snow on roads, especially in outlying areas.


Significant lakeshore flooding will continue along the southern shore of Lake Superior in Upper Michigan, and the eastern shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario in western and upstate New York into Saturday.

In Buffalo, lake levels could exceed 4 feet above flood stage, according to the NWS, a level that’s been reached only one other time since the mid-1970s. That could inundate flood-prone areas near the lake such as the Old First Ward in South Buffalo in a kind of sloshing back and forth of Lake Erie known as a seiche.

B​omb Cyclone Perspective

We mentioned earlier that this winter storm became a bomb cyclone.

A​s a rule of thumb, meteorologists refer to a strengthening low as “bombing out” or undergoing bombogenesis if its minimum surface pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less, though that criteria also depends on a storm’s latitude.

Meteorologists frequently discuss pressure in terms of millibars, rather than inches of mercury.

The reason this all matters beyond just a geeky statistic is the lower the pressure in a storm, the more intense it is. And the greater difference in pressure over an area, the stronger the winds.

(​MORE: What Is A Bomb Cyclone?)

W​inter Storm Elliott has the potential to plunge to a pressure that could threaten December low-pressure records in eastern Ontario, according to data compiled by NOAA Weather Prediction Center meteorologist David Roth.

Nevertheless, this combination of wind, snow, cold, snow squalls and flash freezes has become a major travel headache.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking 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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