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What Can We Learn from Ulmer? The Bomb Cyclone of 2019



A week ago, all of Colorado was hit with a Category-2 cyclone named Ulmer only later in the evening after several tragic events already occurred. For those of you unfamiliar with weather terms, a cyclone is a hurricane that forms in the Pacific Ocean rather than the Atlantic. They were calling it a “bomb cyclone” here – a reference that a lot of folks considered to be a dramatic description for what seemed to be a normal snow storm for the Denver area. In fact, the term was generated from the technical term “bombogenesis”: a weather condition known to cause significant damage due to extreme and quick barometric pressure drops.


Ulmer was no joke. Unfortunately, too many people thought this storm wasn’t even worth knowing about it or considering. I followed the storm progression for the two days prior with an unexpected familiarity with the weather tracking I’ve done elsewhere. Having spent about two-thirds of my life all over the state of Florida, I’m used to the almost year-round hurricane season that stresses out populations across a massive expanse of land. There, hurricanes usually form far off the eastern coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Due to conflicting pressure systems and temperature changes in the water, we never quite know where the hurricane is going to land. Speaking of land, once a hurricane hits the coast, we can’t predict its path of destruction nor whether it will strengthen or weaken as it moves. We’ve seen hurricanes pass us by in southeast Florida, cross the entire state, and then decimate South Carolina. We’ve experienced hurricanes that zig-zag across the state, hit one area before strengthening again to damage another area ten hours away. Tropical storms because Category 1…2…3…4…5 hurricanes in a matter of hours. Because we experience this for the majority of the year – year after year – we know to at least pay attention to the news.




I can’t say the same for the people of Colorado. As proud as you are to be natives, or to have spent decades settled in this state, y’all don’t seem to know much about the weather systems that affect your local experience. Too many of you have concluded that meteorologists can’t be trusted. Ignorance plays a disappointing role – as weather here can be impacted by a multitude of factors none which have anything to do with trusting …