What is a ‘weather bomb’ storm and why is it hitting Toronto?

As a winter storm approaches Toronto, you’ve probably noticed meteorologists using a flurry of terminology to best describe the weather.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a weather warning on Thursday ahead of a winter storm Friday. Meteorologists say Toronto could see what they call a “weather bomb” storm accompanied by wind gusts up to 100 kilometres per hour, blowing snow and freezing rain.

Here are some of the winter weather terms you need to know:

Weather bomb

Meteorologist Gerald Cheng told the Star on Thursday a “weather bomb” that brings strong winds and “quickly intesifying storms” is caused by a quick drop in air pressure.

“It’s a rapidly intensifying system,” Cheng said. “That’s the key, when it’s quickly intensifying, it’s able to generate some very strong winds and that’s what we concerned about.”

Air pressure can be measured in millibars. Cheng said a weather bomb occurs when air pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours. He said the drop in pressure can bring strong wind gusts that “rapidly intensify” storms and can turn snowfall dangerous.

Flash freeze

Flash freezing occurs when temperatures plummet shortly after a rainfall, freezing water that has collected on the ground.

Last week, cold temperatures and freezing rain coated roads in sheets of ice that slowed traffic. On Tuesday, meteorologists warned Toronto could see a flash freeze hit Toronto ahead of snow and wind.

Peel Regional Police officer Philip Yake posted a video to Twitter about walking outside during the “wild weather” expected Friday.

Yake warned pedestrians about the dangers of flash freezes.

“Literally could be a matter of minutes, to an hour, where the water freezes and turns to ice,” Yake said.

Thundersnow

When thunder and lightning accompany snowfall in a storm, some call the phenomenon “thundersnow”

As of Thursday afternoon, meteorologists are not predicting Toronto will see “thundersnow” this weekend. In November, thundersnow was spotted south of the border in New York State as Ontario saw snow squalls near Niagara.

Some weather watchers posted video of the phenomenon to Twitter.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is asking anyone experiencing severe weather to email ONstorm@ec.gc.ca, or tweet reports using the hashtag #ONStorm.

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