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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

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.