A rapidly-intensifying winter storm system known as a “bomb cyclone” targeted the Northeast on Thursday with snow, ice, bone-chilling winds and a central air pressure similar to that of the devastating Superstorm Sandy.
The wicked winter weather canceled thousands of flights and left schools shuttered across the region — and is still set to usher in “life-threatening” temperatures this weekend.
“This could be one of the strongest offshore storms we’ve ever experienced with a central pressure in the 950s,” Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean said.
— NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT) January 4, 2018
The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, coastal New Jersey, Long Island, N.Y., and coastal eastern New England. Most of those areas could see at least a foot of snow, while nearly 2 feet of snow was projected in locales further north.
The winter storm off the East coast has deepened ~24 millibars in a mere 7 hours. It is very rare for a storm to intensify so fast (usually 24 millibars in 24 hours is the standard for a rapidly intensifying storm). For all our friends out east…stay safe! pic.twitter.com/hgT7jmcA20
— NWS Marquette (@NWSMarquette) January 4, 2018
“Snowfall will increase northward into portions of the mid-Atlantic and New England through Thursday. Blizzard conditions are possible close to the coast in portions of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast,” the NWS said in its advisory. “Confidence in heavy snowfall has increased for parts of the Northeast as the surface low is expected to track closer to the coast and intensify rapidly.”
Some computer models have shown the storm with a minimum central air pressure below 950 millibars when it reaches its peak, which would be similar in strength to that of Superstorm Sandy, which had a minimum pressure of 945 millibars when it slammed into New Jersey in 2012, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This storm will stay completely out at sea, but bring winds “in excess of hurricane-force” along the coast, according to Dean, with “damaging” wind gusts of over 70 mph possible in coastal eastern Massachusetts, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island by Thursday afternoon.
Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at the private firm Weather.US., said the storm is “one of fastest intensifying non-tropical storms in historical analysis.”
It’s not a hurricane but it has an “eye-like” feature where warmer air is trapped, encircled, or “secluded” by a bent-back warm front. One of fastest intensifying non-tropical storms in historical analysis, and at only 39°N latitude.
Satellite link: https://t.co/8URO1E1QTf pic.twitter.com/VzGoxzEXRd
— Ryan Maue | weather.us (@RyanMaue) January 4, 2018
All day Thursday meteorologists are going to be glued to the new GOES-East satellite watching a truly amazing extratopical “bomb” cyclone off New England coast. It will be massive — fill up entire Western Atlantic off U.S. East Coast. Pressure as low as Sandy & hurricane winds pic.twitter.com/6M4S3y75wT
— Ryan Maue | weather.us (@RyanMaue) January 2, 2018
The storm moved out of the Southeast after bringing rare cold and snow to the region. Floridians in Tallahassee saw snow for the first time in nearly 30 years, while Charleston, S.C., saw at least 5 inches of snow and ice. Savannah, Ga., also received about 1.2 inches of snow.
The storm has resulted in thousands of canceled flights at major airports such as Boston’s Logan International Airport and New York’s LaGuardia Airport and has disrupted the schedules at regional airports. Amtrak planned to operate a modified schedule between New York and Boston on Thursday. Northeast Regional Service between Washington, D.C., and Newport News/Norfolk, Virginia, was canceled for Thursday.
“The heaviest snow is expected in eastern New England and eastern Long Island, where a foot or more of snow is possible,” Dean said. “Accumulations of at least 6 inches are possible as far west as parts of Vermont, western Massachusetts, Connecticut, parts of the New York City central and southern New Jersey, coastal Delmarva Peninsula and the Tidewater of Virginia.”
State and local officials urged residents to prepare for possible power losses and stay home so crews can clear streets and roads of what could be as much as foot or more of snow in some places. New Jersey State Police said the agency has responded to over 150 crashes and 285 motorist aids so far, including “spinouts, flat tires, mechanical breakdowns.”
A man working at a food truck in Times Square told Fox News he had only a handful of customers Thursday morning as the blustery weather was keeping tourists away from the destination, which, only days earlier, was packed with more than a million people for New Year’s festivities.
Once the storm passes by Friday, the danger will still remain as “even colder Arctic air” arrives by this weekend, according to Dean.
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