As if the cold weather on the East Coast wasn’t already harsh enough, things are going to get worse this week. Bone-chilling cold has gripped a large part of North America. The National Weather Service (NWS) predicts that a monster ‘bomb cyclone’ is going to grip the East Coast from Florida to Maine starting Wednesday. People begging for a break from deadly cold are now advised to prepare for a deep freeze.
NWS warns of ‘snow, ice, rain, strong winds’
The NWS said in a statement that the bomb cyclone would dump rain, snow, and sleet across the East Coast. Even parts that rarely see frigid temperatures are going to suffer from the harsh weather conditions. The NWS added that the bomb cyclone would move across along the East Coast before rapidly strengthening at sea. It would bring “blizzard conditions” across parts of New England on Thursday.
Major east coast winter storm is expected to bring snow, ice, rain, strong winds, and tidal flooding to coastal locations from the southeast U.S. to New England Wednesday into Thursday. Hazardous travel is likely.
— NWS (@NWS) January 3, 2018
The NWS advisory reads, “This winter storm is forecast to bring the potential for a mix of freezing rain/sleet/snow from portions of northern Florida to North Carolina, and snowfall northward along portions of the Mid-Atlantic into northern New England.” The agency warned that some parts of New England could see over a foot of snow. The coastal areas of New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic are expected to see up to six inches of snow.
Arctic air mass will remain entrenched over the eastern two thirds of the country through the end of the week. Very cold temperatures and dangerously cold wind chills expected.
— NWS (@NWS) January 3, 2018
A Winter Storm Warning has also been issued for the Interstate 10 corridor of Florida, parts of North and South Carolina, and Southeast Georgia. Many other parts of the United States are also expected to see bone-chilling temperatures. The freezing rain, snow, sleet, and wind gusts are going to make traveling difficult across many parts of the East Coast over the next few days.
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
Fox News reports that law enforcement agencies in Brunswick, Georgia have seen bridges in the area ice up. In Florida, the Interstate 10 was partially closed near Tallahassee due to the bomb cyclone. According to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy, Tallahassee hasn’t experienced a measurable snowfall since 1989.
The state of Georgia has declared an emergency for 28 counties through Friday due to cold temperatures. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said the state had started preparing for the bomb cyclone in all the 28 affected counties. The Department of Transportation brine trucks and plows have been dispatched to the affected counties.
Janice Dean, a meteorologist at Fox News, warned that the storm is going to be “like a hurricane off shore.” Some areas across the East Coast could see more than a foot of snow. Residents are advised to prepared for bone-chilling air, snow, and possible power outages. Dean warned that the bomb cyclone could be “life threatening” if people are without power.
Cold weather claims a dozen lives
The ferry service has suffered in New York. Temperatures in Chicago are expected to be in the range of -20 degrees to -35 degrees. Temperatures in Indianapolis have fallen to -12 degrees. The city hasn’t seen this level of cold since 1887. Schools in Indianapolis were closed on Tuesday due to freezing temperatures.
The cold weather has already claimed over a dozen lives across different parts of the United States. WIVB-TV reported that at least one person died and nearly a dozen were hospitalized in an accident involving dozens of cars in the Interstate-90 in upstate New York. Officials told CNN that a 27-year-old woman died near Lake Winnebago soon after leaving a New Year’s Eve gathering in Wisconsin.
A couple of cold weather-related deaths have also been reported in Missouri and North Dakota. Another four people have died in Texas due to icy cold weather.
What is bomb cyclone, anyway?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, bomb cyclone or bombogenesis occurs when a “midlatitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours.” Millibar is a measurement of atmospheric pressure. A bomb cyclone may happen a when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass. The result is a rapidly strengthening weather system.
Bomb cyclone or bombogenesis is not a rare phenomenon, but what makes this storm different is how far below the minimum pressure level it might drop. According to Brian Kahn of Columbia University, pressure levels could fall to the same levels we saw during the Hurricane Sandy. Though the current bomb cyclone might not inflict the same damage as the Hurricane Sandy, it could bring hurricane-strength winds to the East Coast in the next few days.