Associated Press

‘Bomb Cyclone' Storm Slams Huge Swath of East Coast, With Extreme Cold to Follow

The National Weather Service said record low temperatures were predicted for 28 major cities across the northeast by dawn Sunday

A massive winter storm roared into the East Coast on Thursday, dumping as much as 17 inches of snow in some areas and unleashing hurricane-force winds and flooding that closed schools and offices and halted transportation systems. 

Forecasters expected the storm to be followed immediately by a blast of face-stinging cold air that could break records in more than two dozen cities and bring wind chills as low as minus 40 degrees this weekend. 

Blizzard warnings and states of emergency were in wide effect, and wind gusts hit more than 70 mph (113 kph) in some places. Parts of New England had already seen more than a foot of snow as it continued to fall into Thursday evening.

Four people were killed in North and South Carolina after their vehicles ran off snow-covered roads, authorities said. Another fatality was reported near Philadelphia when a car could not stop at the bottom of a steep, snow-covered hill and slammed into a commuter train. A passenger in the vehicle was killed. No one on the train was hurt. 

In Manchester, New Hampshire, a woman lost control of her car and barreled into the hallway of a nursing home, necn reported. Despite the crash, no one was injured, fire officials said.

Orlando Igmat's car got stuck in a New Jersey snowbank along the Garden State Parkway in Tinton Falls as he drove to work at Verizon. He waited a half hour for a tow truck to pull him out. 

"I didn't expect it (the storm) was going to be a heavy one. That's why I went to work today. I'm going to stay in a hotel tonight," he said. 

Before 11 a.m., 159 crashes had been reported on New Jersey roads, state police there said. New Jersey State Police were called 285 times to help motorists, NBC10 reported

More than 100,000 homes and businesses lost power at some point Thursday. While many outages were restored by the day's end, officials from the mid-Atlantic to New England warned that those numbers might climb again as strong wind gusts and frigid temperatures continue through Saturday.

In New England, the powerful winds brought coastal flooding that reached historic levels in areas. The frigid waters overwhelmed fishing piers, streets and restaurants, and stranded people in homes and cars, prompting dozens of evacuations and rescues.

The high winds caused coastal flooding from Massachusetts to Maine, and the rising waters stranded people in homes and cars. The high tide in Portland, Maine, reached 13.79 feet, nearly matching the 14.17 feet reported during the Blizzard of 1978.

In Boston, icy harbor waters poured into downtown streets near popular tourist and business areas. The National Weather Service said the waters reached "within a few tenths of an inch" of record levels and local officials across coastal Massachusetts braced for further tidal surges.

"We saw the water going over the sea wall, which was really scary," said Boston resident Sonia Calderon. "I don't know what kind of damage that's going to cause, but it's a little scary just to think about it."

Mayor Marty Walsh said some of the areas hadn't seen flooding in 30 years. "If anyone wants to question global warming, just see where the flood zones are," the Democrat remarked.

The Massachusetts National Guard said it helped rescue a woman and her two children from a car in Marshfield. Flooding in Newburyport forced evacuations on Plum Island, and the only road from the island to the mainland was closed, police said.

Joe Weatherly, a 40-year-old artist from Los Angeles, was in Boston's Seaport district, holding his Boston terrier while searching for a seafood restaurant. Part of the district was flooded. 

"For someone in California, this is really, really scary. Mind blowing," he said. "We don't live in a state where things shut down with the weather. I've just never seen this much snow in my life." 

In Boston, the harbor side entrance at the MBTA's Aquarium Station was temporarily closed. Video showed water flowing down the stairs like a river into the subway station, NBC Boston reported

South of the city, multiple cars were reportedly stuck in flood waters along Newport Avenue Extension in Quincy ahead of high tide. About 20 people had to be rescued. 

"The city has been hit very hard," Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said.

Schools, businesses and ferry services in parts of the Canadian coast were also shut down. Nova Scotia Power said it had more than 1,000 people at the ready in its biggest-ever pre-storm mobilization of personnel and resources. 

More than two-thirds of flights in and out of New York City and Boston airports were canceled. The flight-tracking site FlightAware reported more than 4,000 canceled flights across the United States. 

The storm shut down much of eastern Virginia, but some people took it in stride. 

Mark Schoenenberger, a 45-year-old NASA engineer who lives in Norfolk, Virginia, put on his cross-country skis so he could make a half hour trip to the bagel shop for some breakfast for his family. 

"It's like 'Yay, I get to go out," he said. 

The only concern he seemed to have was telecommuting while his kids were home from school. But "it's just noise," he said. 

Waiting just behind the storm was a wave of bracing cold. 

National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Peterson said record low temperatures were predicted for 28 major cities across New England, eastern New York and the mid-Atlantic states by dawn Sunday. 

Boston expected a low around minus 11 overnight Saturday into Sunday. Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vermont, could see minus 16 and 19, respectively, the weather service said. 

State and local officials urged people to stay home so crews could clear streets and roads of snow. There were concerns in Boston and elsewhere that if roads were not properly cleared, they could freeze into cement-like ice after the cold blast arrives. 

In other areas, plummeting temperatures had already caused water mains to burst. Jackson, Mississippi, was under a precautionary boil-water notice after pipes failed. Portable toilets were placed outside the state Capitol because some of the toilets would not flush. 

The massive storm began two days ago in the Gulf of Mexico and first struck the Florida Panhandle. Some meteorologists described it as a "bomb cyclone" for the process of bombogensis, when the barometric pressure drops steeply in a short period. 

It was so cold in South Florida that iguanas fell from their perches in trees in suburban Miami. The reptiles became immobile when temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius). 

In Charleston, South Carolina, 5 inches of snow was enough for Chris Monoc's sons, ages 4 and 2, to go sledding. 

"They probably will be teenagers the next time something like this happens," Monoc said.


Collins reported from Glastonbury, Connecticut. Associated Press writers Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Julio Cortez in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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