Bombogenesis, baby!: The Pacific Ocean just got a double-barreled blast from two exploding storms

By Tom Yulsman | October 26, 2015 9:12 pm

A screenshot from a video showing the rapid intensification, or “bombogenesis,” of two low pressure systems in the northern Pacific Ocean between Oct. 24 and 26, 2015. Both developed hurricane force winds. The imagery, captured by the Himawari-8 satellite, also shows Champi transitioning from a typhoon into an intense post-tropical low. (Source: National Weather Service)

Bombogenesis! Don’t you just love that word? I sure do. It refers to what might also be called a “meteorological bomb” — the very rapid intensification of a mid-latitude cyclone.

(For the more technically minded, by “very rapid” I mean a drop in atmospheric pressure of at least 24 millibars over just 24 hours.)

It’s a pretty cool phenomenon, and between last Saturday and today, it happened not once but twice in the northern Pacific Ocean. The Himawari-8 satellite captured all of the action, and you can watch it by clicking on the annotated screenshot above.

Bombogenesis occurs in the two areas I’ve circled in red. In each case, a low pressure system exploded into a ginormous storm with hurricane-force winds.

I’ve also circled the remnants of Typhoon Champi, which had been wandering about in the Pacific before sweeping northeast as a sub-tropical low that still managed to pack hurricane-force winds. Here’s how Jason Samenow of the Washington Post’s Capitol Weather Gang described this unusual storm:

The hyper active and record-breaking Pacific tropical cyclone season continues to produce remarkable storms. Champi, the category 3 typhoon in the western Pacific, has formed an eye that is 70 miles wide!

Only an estimated 1 in 10 tropical cyclones have eyes that big.

Lastly, the colors in the video help meteorologists distinguish water vapor and different kinds of air masses. The video consists of “RGB airmass” imagery, which combine data from water vapor and infrared channels on a satellite sensor.  In the imagery, green indicates moist, tropical air masses. Dryer subtropical air masses tend to show up in greenish red. And blue is associated with mid-latitude air masses. The water vapor shows up in those swirling whitish cloud-like features.




ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar