By the time the third friend from around the country called on Wednesday to see if we were all right, I finally learned why they were asking. Apparently a “cyclone bomb” had hit the Northeast of the United States, including where we live. I had never heard of a cyclone bomb, nor had I experienced one on Wednesday. Wednesday had been quite windy and it rained a great deal. Nothing had alarmed me, nor had we heard the signal to hide in the basement until a tornado passed.
It turned out that there had been very strong winds in some places, and about 38,000 customers out of one and a half million or so had lost electric power in Connecticut. Many trees had fallen down knocking breaking power lines. Apparently there was also significant wind damage scattered around the Northeast. Of course there are occasional strong windstorms which knock out power and fell trees. So why were my friends so concerned?
For some arcane reason of weather forecasters, this particular event got the specialized name of “cyclone bomb.” That phrase has specific meaning to some scientists. However, it has no such meaning to the general public. Clearly if you take two very charged words, “cyclone” and “bomb,” repeat them frequently on the air and say that a large part of heavily populated areas will be affected, you will scare millions of people. It worked, whether they meant to frighten listeners of not. Hence my worried friends’ phone calls.
Just a head’s up readers. It is bound to snow very heavily for a long time some time this winter. Undoubtedly the wind will blow during this blizzard. However, be wary of terms such as “buried,” “catastrophic,” “unprecedented,” and “crippling.” We are ready and we will shovel and plow and return to regular life in a short time. No need to panic.