After dumping rare snowfall on parts of the southeastern coast, a powerful winter storm is set to hammer the Northeast with up to 12 inches of snow and strong winds. By the end of this week, parts of the Northeast will be colder than Mars.
Thirteen states from South Carolina to Maine are under a winter storm warning as a massive bombogenesis begins wreaking havoc Thursday. Forecasters say the Northeast states will see threatening hurricane-force winter wind gusts and blinding snow.
The bombogenesis — an area of rapidly declining low pressure — will result in what’s known as a “bomb cyclone,” which happens when a cyclone has a big drop in atmospheric pressure over a short period of time.
Bomb cyclones can draw colder air in from the North, which can blast areas in the northern hemisphere with icy temperatures. They frequently occur in North America when cold air over North America interacts with the warm air over the ocean water from the Atlantic but they have also been reported in eastern Asia and South America.
•Storm moves north: Damaging winds and heavy snow are the main concern Thursday. About 3-6 inches of snow are expected in Philadelphia, 4-8 inches in New York City and over a foot of snow in Boston, forecasters say.
•Power outages: More than 40,000 customers in Virginia and North Carolina have lost power Thursday, according to energy provider Dominion Energy. More than 8,000 customers were also without power in Florida, according to Duke Energy.
•Schools closures: Classes have been canceled Thursday in New York and Boston. Buffalo schools are set to close on Friday amid the cold temperatures, officials said.
•Storm is snarling roads and air travel: More than 2,700 US flights on Thursday have been canceled, according to Flightaware.com. And over 90% of Thursday flights from LaGuardia Airport in New York City are canceled and American Airlines suspended all departures from Boston.
•Deadly cold: At least 12 people in the US have died this week in cold-related deaths, officials said. Six deaths were reported in Wisconsin, four in Texas, one in North Dakota and one in Missouri.
•Rare snow sightings: Some areas of Charleston, South Carolina, saw more than 5 inches of snow Wednesday. In Tallahassee, Florida there was less than an inch of snow but for many, it was their first-ever sight of snow.
Blizzard-like conditions threaten states
In Connecticut, where the storm is expected to hit Thursday Gov. Dan Malloy urged motorists to stay off roads if possible. The forecast calls for a minimum of six inches of snow and winds up to 50 mph, potentially hindering utility repairs should power lines go down.
“We cannot and will not order people up in trucks to fix lines when the winds are too high,” Malloy said.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and urged Virginians to prepare for the storm, which could dump up to a foot of snow in portions of eastern Virginia.
“The bitter cold that continues to plague the Commonwealth will be joined by a potentially significant winter storm which will blast Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore and other areas of Eastern Virginia with snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in some communities,” McAuliffe said Wednesday.
“With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for the travel disruptions, power outages and other threats to health and safety that could arise during this significant weather event.”
Expect more bone-chilling temperatures
The bombogenesis will usher in another round of single-digit or subzero temperatures to the Northeast on Thursday.
In New York and Philadelphia, temperatures are expected to dip to 3 degrees this weekend.
New York City schools are closed Thursday and sanitation workers are getting ready to deploy 2,200 plows to help clear the streets as 4-6 inches of snowfall are expected. The snow, combined with “exceptionally strong winds,” means crews will be working in near-whiteout conditions, New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said.
Boston could see minus 7 degree temperatures paired with about 12 inches of snow, forecasters say.
Gov. Charlie Baker said the greatest areas of concern are along the Plymouth County coast stretching from Sandwich to Dennis on Cape Cod.
But not only the Northeast states will see frigid temperatures on Thursday. Every East Coast state from Maine to Georgia has either a winter weather advisory, a winter storm warning or a blizzard warning.
Snowfall blankets the Southeast
Cities in the Southeast that rarely see snow turned into winter wonderlands as dozens of car crashes were reported and airports closed.
Runways at Charleston International Airport closed and the South Carolina Highway Patrol reported dozens of accidents as snow and sleet fell. In Georgia, the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport — typically booming with tourists this time of year — closed on Wednesday due to severe winter weather conditions.
In South Carolina, some areas had seen five to six inches of snow by Wednesday afternoon, requiring more than 13,000 tons of salt, Gov. Henry McMaster said.
Steady snowfall blanketed Charleston, recording at least 5.3 inches on Wednesday. It was the most snow the city has seen in one day since 1989 and the third-highest snowfall amount on record.
Amid the Instagram-worthy scenes, McMaster warned of dangerous conditions as evening temperatures were expected to remain below freezing through Monday. McMaster urged people to stay indoors as much as possible to minimize risk of injury.
Tallahassee, Florida, had not seen measurable snowfall since 1989, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.
The unusually frigid conditions in Florida led to the closures of Florida State University and Florida A&M University on Wednesday. They also forced the temporary closures of Orlando water parks and prompted authorities to open dozens of emergency shelters.