Unprecedented Cold Wave Strikes The US

Article by Justin Shin

Last week Thursday, the East Coast of North America was taken by storm when the bomb cyclone named “Grayson” struck– delivering a delightful combination of high winds, heavy snow, and bitter cold weather. In total, Grayson affected 100 million people, grounded thousands of flights, caused numerous schools districts to close, and inflicted significant damage on public roadways. The massive winter hurricane had succeeded in effectively bringing day-to-day life in the East Coast to a grinding halt.

The consequences of Grayson could be felt around the world, specifically here in Manila, when many ISM teachers had their flights cancelled or diverted and earned a few more days off. Most teachers have returned, but a few, like Mr. Butcher, remained stuck in the vacation preserving wrath of the storm.

People living in states where Grayson had brought temperatures to record lows (some reaching even -70ºC) described how your toes and fingers could quickly go numb standing outside just for a few minutes– even if wrapped in multiple layers of clothing. At Mount Washington in New Hampshire, New York times reporters said, “the wind turned snowflakes into projectiles that feel as if they are piercing any skin that is exposed.

Facing such terrible conditions, individual humans went about what they did best to protect themselves against the permeating cold: innovation. In Schenectady, N.Y., an engineering student fashioned himself a makeshift blanket cave by raising a bed, hanging blankets from the side and sleeping inside– snug against the baseboard heaters. Meanwhile, larger defensive measures were put into effect as firefighters scrambled to rescue motorists from flooded streets in Boston and National Guard troops mobilised in the Northeast.

For one fascinated with terrifyingly powerful natural phenomena, you might be asking: What exactly is a bomb cyclone? A bomb cyclone forms when huge masses of cold and warm air meet (in the case of Grayson, forming over the Atlantic ocean), creating large pressure differentials that cause strong gusts of winds to form. When pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, the resulting phenomenon can be identified as a bomb cyclone. Grayson, in particular, boasted 40-60 mph winds.

Many people have attributed the cause of Grayson to global warming, but meteorologists have cautioned being too eager in jumping onto the environmental bandwagon. They pointed out how between 40-50 bomb cyclones occur annually worldwide but most go unnoticed as the majority of these bomb cyclones manifest and disappear over the vast expanses of ocean– not proving newsworthy for scandal-hungry news outlets. Despite this, meteorologists conjectured that rising temperatures may contribute to increasing frequency of such extreme weather occurrences. Who knows if extreme weather phenomenons like these should occur more frequently in the future? Only time will tell.