3 January

Bombogenisis. When Godzilla Becomes A Storm From Hell

by Jon Katz
Storm Of Storms

Over the years, the weather media has figured out how to personalize and dramatize big storms. They name them, promote them for days, jack up their ad rates,  and do everything they can to scare everyone in the path half to death.

They have outdone themselves with Bombogenisis, a Godzilla like storm they are calling a bomb cyclone expected to demolish the East Coast, it is the End of Days, it seems. Even the more staid National Weather service is running out of warnings breathless enough to scare anyone who is listening. After all, we cant all evacuate our country and our planet.

I looked up  Bobogenisis, the horror storm of storms. Since it seems unlikely that life as we know it will continue on after Saturday, I should say my farewells now,  in case there is nothing left her on Sunday – and to think we hoped to go to the movies. I thank you all and wish you peace and compassion, perhaps we will meet and do it again in a warmer place.

If you substitute “Godzilla” for “bombogenisis,” you understand what has happened to our media’s representations of Mother Earth and her weather.

For those of you who are curious, and not yet numb enough to learn,  Bombogenesis is inside talk long used by meteorologists, the people our leaders say can’t be believed when they claim the earth is dying due to human greed and ignorance. Even the members of Congress might become believers by Saturday, the scientists are using up hyperbolic words faster than Texans use up bullets.

Bombogenisis occurs when a mid-latitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can occur when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a “bomb cyclone.”

People are praying for me and  Maria and the farm on Facebook, which is what happens when the most  horrific storm ever is nearing you and your life.  On the weather maps, we are not in a good color zone.

The truth is, we are not in danger, “Grayson,” as the storm has been named (a WASP storm?) is supposed to rampage out over the Atlantic and mostly threatens Southeastern New England – Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard.

It is likely, say the weather pundits that the storm will wreak havoc on the Northeast. It sure has our attention, the wind chill on Saturday is supposed to go as low as – 45 around here, and that can, in fact be life-altering.

When this kind of thing occurs I do two things. I think about all the people who have it much worse than I do. Our lives are not in danger, our farmhouse can easily survive the storm as it is supposed to come here. The cold and winds are serious, and we will take them seriously. Even if our power goes out, we will live. We can get help if we need help. Many people can’t.

We know what to do: many layers of clothing, cover as much of our skin as we can, go outside in five to ten minute bursts, not longer, stockpile some water for the animals in case the power goes out or the frost-free line to the barn freezes and the animals have no way of getting water. We have plenty of firewood and  good to eat and are already putting money away for the heating oil bill, which we expect to get bigger than Gus’s esophagus.

We think of the farmers, out all day saving cows and  starting tractors and  chipping away at manure.

We think of people in the Midwest and Maine and other places where the temperatures are even lower than here. We think of the people down South who are not used to this and are especially threatened by Grayson. And of course we now think of the homeless (more than 50,000 in New York City alone) and refugees and immigrants who often have no safe place to go in such bitter cold. We seem sadly to be  getting used to the idea of suffering and accepting it.

I embrace the idea that everyone has it  harder than I do, and fights tougher battles in life. That is a source of perspective, and empathy, and i quickly realize I am lucky.  I am not the one to pray for. Our home is not about to blow away, we will not perish. If the electricity goes out, we will have two wood stoves to warm us until there is  relief.

I do worry about the animals, if the wind chill does get to -45, they will be in some danger. We are opening up the barn stalls so they will have protection from the wind. They should be fine, and we will grain them and check on them continuously.

And we will keep the heat and fires going all through Saturday, the descent into Winter hell. As the farmers say, if you stay with it, you will get through it.

I also think  more and more of Mother Earth, and i believe these storms are a message from her, a plea, perhaps a last chance call to save her and us, to help her heal and accept the responsibility for what we have done to her. It is horrible enough what we have done to her, even less excusable is the way we turn our backs to her suffering. In my mind, a sacrilege.

I believe Mother Earth is speaking to us when she sends us storms like this. “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain,” said Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si.” Never, he said, “have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we  have in the last 200 years.”

The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together, warned Francis. In our country, our leaders do not seem to be listening, it appears that loving Mother Earth might be bad for business. They have no idea.

In the Kabbalah, God tells his people that they must care for Mother Earth and treat her with love and dignity. If they don’t, he vows, he will return and wreak havoc on the planet. He sends his angel Shekinah, the Divine Feminine, to police our world and find polluters and greedy people who despoil Mother Earth. He commands her to chase them down and send the cherubs to sting the cheeks of the despoilers and tear their garments.

I don’t pity myself or fear for myself, there is no need to pray for me or for Maria. If you wish to pray, please pray for our Mother, our home, our future, and for the people in the storm’s path.

That’s the message I get from the storm they call the “bomb cyclone” bearing down on so many helpless people.



  1. Thank you. This is beautifully written. If you survive past Saturday’s Armageddon, I suggest that you go see the movie Coco. I’m not usually a big Pixar fan, but this movie was lovely in so many ways. And buy the jumbo popcorn because YOLO. Happy new year to you and Maria! Oh, and I recommend Steger Mukluks for those sub-zero days.

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