Satellite View Shows 'Bomb Cyclone' Battering U.S. East Coast

A stunning video from space shows a winter storm – also known as a "bomb cyclone" – slamming into the northeast United States today (March 2). Flooding and sheets of snow and rain accompanied the storm, along with strong waves along the coasts.

The images from the GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite)-East satellite show the storm developing and morphing since Tuesday (Feb. 27). Clouds concentrate over the east coast and linger there, obscuring the view below.

"Take this storm seriously!" the National Weather Service in Boston said on Twitter yesterday (March 1). "This is a LIFE & DEATH situation for those living along the coast, especially those ocean-exposed shorelines." 

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The NWS added that people in "ocean-exposed shorelines" should pay special attention. The service forecast moderate to major flooding, with effects on buildings ranging from structural damage to total destruction.

The storm has roughly 80 million people along its path, with 22 million of those affected by a coastal flood warning, according to CNN. Winds by midday today were blowing faster than 50 miles an hour (80 km/h). Additionally, more than 3,000 flights in the United States were cancelled, particularly in the northeast airports of New York City, Philadelphia and Boston.

(Image credit: NOAA)

The storm is called a "bomb cyclone"; its name is a nod to the process -- "bombogenesis" -- that forms it. Bombogenesis happens when the storm's central low pressure plunges by at least 24 millibars (an atmospheric pressure measurement) in 24 hours, states the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

This storm, however, was expected to lose between 30 and 35 millibars in 24 hours, Greg Carbin, branch chief of forecast operations for the NWS' Weather Prediction Center, told sister site Live Science.

Coincidentally, the GOES-East satellite captured this imagery just as a sister orbiter rocketed into space. Yesterday (March 1), the GOES-S satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its ultimate destination is a location above the eastern Pacific Ocean. NASA and NOAA jointly operate the GOES satellites.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: