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Much of eastern US affected by bomb cyclone

storm US Snow
MARK WILSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
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At least a dozen deaths, thousands without power, snow for first time in parts of the South

Parts of the South and southeastern United States saw its first snow ever, while areas of the Northeast came to a virtual standstill Thursday as a “bomb cyclone” swept across the region.

States of emergency have been declared by the governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, National Public Radio reported.

A “bomb cyclone’ is a storm that has a significant and rapid drop in atmospheric pressure over a short period of time.

“By the time Friday is here, people along the length of North America’s East Coast will be recuperating from a punishing round of heavy snow, high winds, and bitter cold,” said the Weather Underground. “This nor’easter … will rank among the most impressive of recent decades in its fast development, deep low pressure, and fierce winds. Various models agreed that [the storm’s] surface low would deepen by an astounding 30-40 millibars or more from late Wednesday to late Thursday, more than qualifying the midlatitude cyclone as a meteorological ‘bomb’ (defined as 24 millibars of deepening in 24 hours). The deepening rate could be among the strongest observed off the East Coast in the last several decades of records,” according to the National Weather Service.

The blizzard has been accompanied by already frigid temperatures, which have been blamed for more than a dozen deaths over the past few days, including two homeless people in Houston, according to Reuters.

Even Miami was expecting “some really cold temperatures and wind chills,” according to Andrew Hagen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service there, Tallahassee, the state capital in the north, was getting a bit of snow.

Further to the north, in Georgia, there was as much as three inches of the white stuff.

But while someone in Savannah was marveling on an apparent homemade video at how “beautiful” the city streets were in a light dusting of snow, commuters and municipal workers further to the north found other words to describe the phenomenon. CNN provided this overview Thursday morning:

About 3 to 6 inches of snow are expected in Philadelphia, 4 to 8 inches in New York City, and more than a foot of snow in Boston, forecasters said.

More than 40,000 customers in Virginia and North Carolina lost power early Thursday, according to energy provider Dominion Energy. More than 8,000 customers were also without power in Florida, according to Duke Energy.

More than 2,700 US flights on Thursday have been canceled, according to Flightaware.com.

The New York Times described how a bomb cyclone evolves:

Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move, and the rotation of the Earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere (when viewed from above), leading to winds that come out of the northeast — a nor’easter.

 

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