Governors across the Eastern Seaboard have declared states of emergency after a huge winter storm that hit the southeastern U.S. on Wednesday developed overnight into a “bomb cyclone” that is now walloping the Northeast with high winds and heavy snow.
The storm killed three people in North Carolina in traffic accidents on Wednesday night into Thursday.
Another blast of Arctic air will converge on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this weekend, with dangerously low temperatures in the single digits expected to follow once the storm subsides.
State of emergency
As early as Tuesday, governors in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia all declared a state of emergency in some or all of their respective states in response to a winter storm that could end up dumping 18 inches of snow in Boston and knocking down power lines with winds as high as 70 mph in parts of the Northeast.
The storm blew across the southeastern U.S. on Wednesday, leaving rare snowfall in Florida’s capital of Tallahassee for the first time in 30 years. More than 35,000 customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia early Thursday, as well.
On Wednesday night into Thursday, the storm moved up to the Northeast, where it rapidly intensified. Heavy snow is expected to fall until Thursday evening at a rate of up to three inches an hour; blizzard warnings extend from North Carolina to Maine.
Coastal flooding could also occur in eastern New England, which could be exacerbated by sea ice chunks, the Weather Service warned.
More than 3,300 flights were canceled in anticipation of the storm. Three in four flights were canceled at New York’s three major airports and Boston’s Logan International, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport temporarily suspended all flights.
Additionally, some 65,000 customers in the Northeast were without power early on Thursday, with more outages expected to come.
The storm, which stretched across the entire Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida, is the result of a rapid and rare drop in barometric pressure, known as a bombogenesis or bomb cyclone. A bomb cyclone occurs when a storm’s barometric pressure drops more than 24 millibars in 24 hours.
The storm’s pressure dropped 53 millibars in 21 hours, classifying it as among the worst eastern U.S. snowstorms in modern history. It follows a prolonged cold spell that has left at least 20 dead in the U.S. since Dec. 26.
Three deaths in North Carolina have been attributed to the storm. Officials say two North Carolina men died in the storm Wednesday night when their pickup truck overturned in a creek. Another died early Thursday morning after sliding off a road and overturning his vehicle:
— NC Public Safety (@NCPublicSafety) January 4, 2018
— Sydette (@Blackamazon) January 2, 2018
Horrible combination of flooding and blizzard in Boston USA now. pic.twitter.com/Xow850c4qd
— Dave Throup (@DaveThroupEA) January 4, 2018
Blizzard conditions developing in Boston. Schools closed. Flights cancelled. People being urged to stay home. pic.twitter.com/wnvnqq80MO
— Blake McCoy (@BlakeNBC) January 4, 2018
A blast of Arctic air is expected to settle on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through the weekend, following up the punishing storm with temperatures in the single digits and teens at the highest. Temperatures will be 20 to 40 degrees below normal, causing concerns among those affected by power outages. Subzero cold is expected over all of New England on Sunday.
This is truly a storm for the record books.