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Ben Domensino, 10 Nov 2021, 8:25 AM UTC

Is a 'rain bomb' really a thing?

Is a 'rain bomb' really a thing?

The term 'rain bomb' has been getting a bit of traction this week as rain and thunderstorms spread across Australia. It sure sounds cool, but is a rain bomb actually a thing?

Technically, there is no such thing as a 'rain bomb' in the field of meteorology.

In recent years, individual thunderstorms that produce a narrow shaft of heavy precipitation have been described as being like a rain bomb. However, the technical term for this sudden deluge is a 'wet microburst'.

There is also a phenomenon called 'explosive bombogenesis', which refers to the rapid intensification of a mid-latitude low pressure system, such as an East Coast Low. Lows that undergo explosive bombogenesis are often informally be referred to as 'bombing lows' or sometimes a 'bomb cyclones'.

However, that's not what is happening this week.

Australia is currently being covered by a large mass of rain and thunderstorm-producing clouds that will collectively dump a huge amount of water across the country. While this rain is a big deal – it will cause widespread flooding across several states and territories – there is no technical grounding in calling this week's rain event a ‘rain bomb’.

And while we are on the topic, bombs shouldn't go anywhere near tropical cyclones either. That is, unless you want to make radioactive rain.

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