Visions of arctic weather dance in our heads

Does anyone else wonder if meteorologists go out of their way to scare the pants off Americans with their forecasts?

Arctic blast! Polar vortex!

As if those terms aren’t already painting horrible enough images in our heads, now there’s Bomb Cyclone! Really?

This week, for the first time EVER I heard the term and wondered to myself, “Who comes up with this stuff?”

So, just for fun, I did a Google search for “term Bomb Cyclone.” I found recent articles on the terminology by Huffington Post, CNN, Fortune Magazine, Boston Globe and more.

The Huffington Post did an entire story about the person who first coined the phrase, McGill University meteorology professor John Gyakum. He, along with late Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorologist Fred Sanders, first used the term to describe powerful cyclones that get their energy from rapid drops in pressure caused by hot and cold temperatures colliding.

It was in a paper published in 1980. Yes, 1980!

He created the term so long ago that, according to, he doesn’t even use it anymore. Gyakum said he avoids analogies to incendiary weapons in an era where terrorist attacks and major weather events both regularly make headlines.

Sounds logical, yet, “Bomb Cyclone” was all the rage last week, as meteorologists everywhere described the intense weather system that gripped the East Coast. It was bantered about as any common buzzword.

“When I talk about these explosively developing storms, I go through the trouble of mouthing the terms ‘explosively developing,’ and I don’t use ‘bomb,'” Gyakum told Huffington Post. “It’s somewhat inappropriate when you consider other aspects of the world right now.”

But, indeed, as I read The Associated Press wire on Friday and watched TV news video of the icy storm surge pounding the New England coast and rising frozen sea waters flooding homes and roadways, I must admit the term “Bomb Cyclone,” suddenly seemed appropriate.

Now, I generally don’t get too excited about the weather. My mother will tell you about the knots she’d get in her stomach as I’d venture out as a youngster with my friends with no worries or concerns about the forecast.

Mom and dad had a different approach, especially considering the mountains above Johnstown, Pa., where I grew up, frequently were severely pounded by winter weather.

Since I was a child, and especially when I was old enough to drive, I listened to my parents stressing out over weather forecasts promising lots of snow and ice.

Before I was old enough to drive, I was at the mercy of my parents to drop me off at friends’ homes and other teenage excursions, and frequently was the one left sitting at home because of mom’s and dad’s fear of the weather.

But I digress.

So Friday when I saw the damage done by last week’s bomb cyclone, coupled with the frigid temperatures in northeast Ohio, I made the admission that this winter might be for real.

Bomb cyclone just might not be overstating the fact.

Let’s start counting the days until we only have to worry about forecasts for unbearable heat!

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While you’re thinking about heat and wearing less clothing, think about the quickly approaching deadline for the 17th annual Tribune Chronicle / Mercy Health Fitness Challenge.

It’s an eight-week program in which five-person teams shed weight, with the team losing the most (based on percentage of starting weight) winning money for their favorite charity.

Last year, 125 players on the 25 local Fitness Challenge teams lost 2,232 collective pounds and won $8,205 for area charities in the process.

Teams of five have until Friday to register for the 2018 Fitness Challenge. The first weekly weigh-in pounds the scales Jan. 18 and the competition ends March 15. Registration forms are published in the Tribune Chronicle, or for more information, contact Sue Shafer at 330-841-1969 or

We will publish weekly team standings, spotlights on the service organizations, and health and fitness tips from the professionals at Mercy Health-Youngstown.