Career & Education

What's a Bombo?

Sunday, January 07, 2018

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The American news media was in a tizzy this past week about a word that, with the replacement of the initial vowel, and a different context, would not be strange to Jamaican ears — in bombogenesis.

It ought to be the word of the year.

Scientifically, it refers to the dramatic drop in atmospheric pressure of a low-pressure rotating storm system over a short period of time and describes winter storm Grayson currently freezing the US east coast.

The word comes from combining “bomb” and “cyclogenesis”, meteorology speak for storm formation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that, technically speaking, a storm undergoes bombogenesis when it's central low pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

According to Live Science, bombogenesis tends to occur more often in winter in what are called mid-latitude or extra-tropical cyclones. These are driven by the collision of warm and cold air masses, whereas tropical cyclones or hurricanes are driven by convection, or the transfer of heat upward (although they can also undergo rapid intensification and sometimes the term bombogenesis is used to describe that process as well).

They can go by other names, like Nor'easter and mid-latitude cyclone, which may explain why you've never heard of one before now.

Wind speed data from 2014 show that 14 of 20 hurricane-force wind events underwent bombogenesis in the North Atlantic during the first two months of that year.

But online searches for “Bombo” turn up all kinds of interesting surprises.

There is Bombo, Uganda; Bombo, Tanzania; and Bombo, Australia.

Bombo is a town in Luweero District in the Central Region of Uganda. It is 33 kilometres from Kampala, on the Kampala — Masindi Highway and is en route to the Murchison Falls National Park.

In Australia, Bombo is a suburb of the municipality of Kiama, in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. It is located just two kilometres from Kiama. Bombo is the gateway between Kiama and its northern suburbs, Kiama Downs and Minnamurra.

In Tanzania, Bombo is a rural ward in the North.

Locations aside, there is fabric called Bombo stripe. This, coupled with the place names from the African continent, could be clues to the origin of the Jamaican curse word.

There are also musical references. Bombo criollo or just bombo, is a family of Latin American drums. Bombo legüero, for example, is an Argentine drum. A 1921 Broadway production starring Al Jolson was called Bombo, as was a song by Norwegian singer Adelén.

Bombo Radyo Philippines is a radio network, and who could forget the line of kids toys and equipment called Bumbo?




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