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Update: Bitter Cold Snow-Storm ‘Bomb Cyclone’ hit NYC & the Northeast Coast States of the United States–Reports

Bitter Cold Snow-Storm ‘Bomb Cyclone’ hit NYC & the Northeast Coast States of the United States–Reports New York[RR]North-East Coast-States-USA–New York was walloped, and can expect a freezing night–With 8 to 15 inches of snow already down in New York City and its suburbs, and another few inches still to come in eastern Long Island, the […]

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Bitter Cold Snow-Storm ‘Bomb Cyclone’ hit NYC & the Northeast Coast States of the United States–Reports

New York[RR]North-East Coast-States-USA–New York was walloped, and can expect a freezing night–With 8 to 15 inches of snow already down in New York City and its suburbs, and another few inches still to come in eastern Long Island, the National Weather Service warned of continuing high winds and blowing snow through the night, followed by toe-numbing cold into the weekend. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that with the wind chill, it could feel like minus 20 degrees on Friday and Saturday nights.

On Thursday, Eric Taveras, 42, of the Bronx, stood outside the storied Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park. Howling winds had already been blowing snow into his eyes.

“Once your feet get cold, your whole body is done,” said Mr. Taveras, who was among the workers facing the daunting task of shoveling the snow to keep people from slipping on the checkered floors outside the hotel.

Mr. Taveras said he could not wait to get home and be with his children. The city’s public schools were expected to reopen on Friday. Flights resumed at La Guardia Airport Thursday evening, but would not resume at Kennedy International Airport until 7 a.m. on Friday.

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In Boston, one of the highest tides on record flooded a subway station near the New England Aquarium. Pipes cracked from New Jersey to North Carolina. Even Florida’s iguanas found themselves stunned by the cold.

From the Spanish moss-canopied sidewalks of Savannah, Ga., to icy villages in coastal Maine, emergency officials reckoned with the rages, whims and remains of a storm that shut down schools for more than a million children, flooded roadways, filled homeless shelters and forced the cancellations of thousands of flights.

Yet the storm, notable for a steep drop in atmospheric pressure that prompted some forecasters to describe it as a “bomb cyclone,” was but one act in a prolonged run of misery that had already enveloped millions of people in a wintry torment of Arctic air and snow-blown streets.

Major Developments:

• Wind chills are expected to repeatedly plunge below zero in some areas, especially in New England, for the next several days. As the storm left most of the East Coast behind on Thursday, utility companies scrambled to restore electricity to tens of thousands of homes and businesses. Read more on how power companies have warned of possible fuel shortages to come.

• Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina said Thursday morning that two men had died when a pickup truck overturned in an icy creek in Moore County, and that a third death had been reported in Beaufort County. By Thursday afternoon, The Associated Press had also reported one death in South Carolina and another in Philadelphia.

• All along the Eastern Seaboard, roads — iced-over, snow-covered or slush-filled — were treacherous on Thursday and likely to remain that way for a few days. Some states, including New York, imposed restrictions on some roads and limited truck travel.

• The storm’s path through some of the busiest air travel corridors in the country prompted airlines to cancel more than 4,000 flights and delay 2,000 more by nightfall on Thursday according to FlightAware, an aviation tracking website. Carriers have already abandoned plans for more than 900 flights on Friday.

Icy water, pushed by a high tide, flooded parts of Boston.

Boston’s Long Wharf area became a slushy mess when a three-foot tidal surge pushed floodwaters into buildings and down the steps of the Aquarium mass transit station. Firefighters rescued one person who was trapped in a car that had water nearly to its door handles.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen the water come this high in the downtown area,” Joseph Finn, the city’s fire commissioner, said as the wind whipped heavy snow through the air.

Mr. Finn said emergency workers had made some other rescues in coastal areas of the city, helping people out of stranded cars in the icy water, and city officials said flooding had extended to other neighborhoods, including the Seaport, Dorchester and East Boston. Meteorologists said Thursday’s tides were some of the highest ever recorded in Boston.

“We had a very high astronomical tide to begin with, and we’re looking basically at a three-foot storm surge on top of that,” said Hayden Frank, a meteorologist with the Weather Service’s office in Taunton, Mass. “To get significant coastal flooding, you need to have the strongest winds at exactly the time of high tide, and that’s kind of what happened today.”

Earlier on Thursday, Boston Common was almost silent as it began to fill with snow early, cloaked in a white haze interrupted only by the odd spray of Christmas lights or a solitary silhouette walking through the park.

Bitalina Diaz, 38, rode the Orange Line toward her job cleaning offices in downtown Boston, with her pants tucked into her boots and her hood up to buffet the effects of the chilly wind.

“I hope I can get a train back,” Ms. Diaz said. “It’s a lot of snow.”

As of early Thursday evening, parts of Boston had been hit with more than a foot of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

New York was walloped, and can expect a freezing night.

With 8 to 15 inches of snow already down in New York City and its suburbs, and another few inches still to come in eastern Long Island, the National Weather Service warned of continuing high winds and blowing snow through the night, followed by toe-numbing cold into the weekend. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that with the wind chill, it could feel like minus 20 degrees on Friday and Saturday nights.

On Thursday, Eric Taveras, 42, of the Bronx, stood outside the storied Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park. Howling winds had already been blowing snow into his eyes.

“Once your feet get cold, your whole body is done,” said Mr. Taveras, who was among the workers facing the daunting task of shoveling the snow to keep people from slipping on the checkered floors outside the hotel.

Mr. Taveras said he could not wait to get home and be with his children. The city’s public schools were expected to reopen on Friday. Flights resumed at La Guardia Airport Thursday evening, but would not resume at Kennedy International Airport until 7 a.m. on Friday.

Winter Storm Pounds Northeast With Wind, Snow and Flooding–After battering the South and whipping up the Mid-Atlantic coast, a blizzard propelled by hurricane-strength winds lashed the Northeast on Thursday, grounding flights, shuttering schools, flooding buildings and sending squalls of snow into the tunnels of New York City’s subway system.

In downtown Boston, a three-foot tidal surge flooded a subway station and turned a popular tourist area into a slushy tundra. In New York, the two major airports stopped flights and cars slid off glazed roads. And in Virginia, more than 40,000 residents and businesses lost power.

The storm, called a “bomb cyclone” by some meteorologists for how quickly the barometric pressure fell, created winds that topped 75 miles per hour in Nantucket and 65 miles per hour on Long Island, tearing the roof off a gas station and making some crossings impassable for trucks.

As treacherous as it was, elected officials warned that the storm was a prelude to worse misery, with days of subzero wind chills ahead that could freeze snowy roads and put homeless people in grave danger.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said it could feel like minus-20 degrees on Friday and Saturday nights. There were eight inches of snow in Central Park and more than nine inches coating sections of Queens. “This is a serious, serious storm,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We expect tough conditions for days to come, particularly in terms of cold.”

At the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, often one of the coldest and most treacherous places in New England during a storm, the wind chill was expected to plummet as low as minus-95 degrees on Friday night, “which could cause frostbite in a matter of minutes,” said Caleb Meute, a staff meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York declared a state of emergency for Westchester, New York City and Long Island, and state officials imposed speed restrictions on some bridges and banned trucks on others because of high winds.

Officials closed the runways at La Guardia and Kennedy Airports in New York and canceled nearly three-quarters of the day’s schedule at Newark Liberty International in New Jersey. Passengers were stranded far and wide, as airlines canceled more than 4,000 flights on Thursday and more than 600 on Friday, according to FlightAware.com, a website that tracks flights.

Utility companies hurried to restore electricity to tens of thousands of homes and businesses up and down the East Coast. Several public housing developments in New York City lost heat and hot water.

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said, two men died when a pickup truck overturned in an icy creek in Moore County, and a third death was reported in Beaufort County.

And in Savannah, Ga., which recorded its first snowfall in years this week, several cars of an Amtrak train carrying more than 300 people from Miami to New York derailed, though it was not clear whether the storm was a factor. Officials said there were no reports of injuries.

New York City schools, closed on Thursday, were expected to reopen on Friday.

But Boston was recovering more slowly. School was canceled on Friday. The tides there were the highest in nearly 40 years, and meteorologists were working to determine whether they exceeded the tides that came in with the Blizzard of 1978.

Waters from the Massachusetts Bay poured into a subway station near the New England Aquarium and brought flooding to an unusually broad swath of the city, including the Seaport District, which is full of glassy new construction; Charlestown; the North End; Dorchester; and East Boston.

“It’s dangerous,” said Martin J. Walsh, the mayor of Boston, calling the storm a reminder of the damage expected as climate change drives stronger storms. “If anyone wants to question global warming, just see where the flood zones are.”

Firefighters rescued someone from a car trapped in water nearly up to its door handles, said Joseph Finn, the commissioner of the Boston Fire Department.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen the water come this high in the downtown area,” Commissioner Finn said. Firefighters inspected flooded buildings to see which ones could pose a fire risk and made a small number of additional rescues in coastal areas of the city, helping people out of stranded cars in the icy water.

In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority deployed an arsenal of equipment to keep the Long Island Rail Road running through the storm: switch heaters, third-rail heaters and antifreeze trains. That was little comfort for Ralph Girardi, who pulled a cellphone from his backpack inside the waiting area of the Bellmore station on Thursday morning. He was not going to take any chances.

“I’m just about to call my boss and tell him I am turning around,” Mr. Girardi, 60, said. “I just don’t trust the trains. My concern is that I’m not going to be able to get out of the city later in the day.”

Cars were stranded on the Long Island Expressway and others skidded and slipped off the road as conditions deteriorated, Mr. Cuomo said, creating a “significant issue of public safety.”

In New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency, the winter storm created whiteout conditions on roadways, shut schools, delayed trains and even held up legislation. Winds tore the roof off a gas station in Garfield, N.J., on Thursday afternoon.

The State Senate and Assembly both postponed votes that had been scheduled to cram key legislation into the final days of the lame-duck legislature, including a vote on $5 billion in potential tax credits to help lure Amazon to the state.

Any legislation needs to be voted on by Tuesday at noon to be considered by Mr. Christie before a new legislature takes over and governor-elect Philip D. Murphy is sworn in.

On Long Island, snow drifts piled up on every corner. Drivers crawled through a wall of white on roads littered with cars that had gotten stuck or had pulled over. Plows cleared roadways only for new gusts of snow to cover their handiwork.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said plow operators were struggling with whiteout conditions. If forecasts for frigid temperatures hold true, he said, “that snow and ice is going to be frozen in place.”

The shelves of some New York City grocery stores quickly emptied of milk, eggs and kale as New Yorkers stocked up for the storm, and grocers worried whether the next produce trucks would ever arrive.

The streets were largely empty at the height of the storm, with workers outside hotels and apartment buildings shoveling snow and then, as more fell, shoveling again.

Cars inched along roads in Queens, with a number of side streets still waiting to be plowed by the morning rush hour. Commuters kept their eyes to the ground, fearful of being battered by the horizontal snow.

On the aboveground subway platform at Astoria Boulevard, riders hid behind signs and advertisements to avoid the whipping winds. But on a morning like Thursday, commuters brave enough to face the storm welcomed the unexpected: The subways, at least for the moment, seemed to be running on time–Ruth Bashinsky, Jessica Bidgood, Nick Corasaniti, Arielle Dollinger, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Lisa Foderaro, Patrick McGeehan, William Neuman, Sean Piccoli, Irene Plagianos, Katharine Q. Seelye and John Surico contributed reporting.

Tourists frolic in the cold, and on the Reflecting Pool, in Washington.

In Washington, the National Weather Service said Thursday’s high temperature reached just 27 degrees. Temperatures are not expected to reach the 40s — maybe — until Monday.

By Thursday afternoon, the black pavement on Pennsylvania Avenue was dulled under a thick layer of salt. A few blocks south on the National Mall, the American flags beside the World War II Memorial whipped in the wind as resolute tourists explored the monuments.

“Our kids have never really seen snow before,” said John Weir of Miami, Fla., who was traveling with his wife, Sylvia, and their three children. All five were bundled and masked, exposing only their eyes.

Jordan Papa, from Auckland, New Zealand, slid around on the frozen Reflecting Pool with his partner, Jayda Tainui, as the couple bantered that they had heard the ice crack beneath them.

“You see this pool in movies, and we just wanted to be able to say we’ve walked on it,” Ms. Tainui said.

A Mainer says it is a nice day for a run.

In Maine, where the Weather Service had issued a warning until midnight Eastern for hurricane-force winds along the coast, residents were taking the harsh wintry conditions in stride.

Mish Sommers, 46, who lives in Lincolnville, Me., went for a run Thursday in whiteout conditions with ice cleats on her shoes. “Probably should have run in snowshoes,” she said.

She said she loved being part of the stillness outdoors. “What happens when the snow falls with this kind of intensity, it gets so quiet,” she said. “There’s a very hushed sense of everything being so gentle around us.”

Cooper Funk, 38, a vegetable farmer in Camden, Me., who is a fifth-generation Californian, said he was worried about the wind, which was roaring around his house at more than 40 miles per hour, though the greenhouse-like structures over his vegetables were still standing.

Those iguanas falling from trees in Florida? They probably are not dead.

When temperatures dip into the 30s and 40s, Floridians know to be on the lookout for reptiles stunned — but not necessarily killed — by the cold. They can come back to life again when it warms up.

In Boca Raton, Frank Cerabino, a Palm Beach Post columnist familiar with the creatures, stepped outside and saw a bright green specimen by his pool on Thursday morning, feet up.

“He didn’t move,” Mr. Cerabino said. “But he’s probably still alive. My experience is that they take a while to die.”

Across the South, many people reveled in their rare taste of winter.

In Wilmington, N.C., most people didn’t expect to get any snow this year, but more than three inches fell on Thursday, according to The Wilmington Star-News.

“We love it; we love having it actually be winter in the South and we love the Southern version of a sled: a boogie board,” Rachel Baldwin told the newspaper.

In Fredericksburg, Va., dozens of onlookers called the police to report that three swans had been hemmed in by ice on a pond, but were relieved to learn they were not frozen — they were just fake, according to The Free Lance-Star.

And the police in Greenville, N.C., said they caught two men who had broken into cars on Wednesday by tracking their footprints in the snow.

What exactly is a ‘bomb cyclone,’ or bombogenesis?

What makes a storm a bomb is how fast the atmospheric pressure falls; falling atmospheric pressure is a characteristic of all storms. By definition, the barometric pressure must drop by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours for a storm to be called a bomb cyclone; the formation of such a storm is called bombogenesis.

Here is how it works: 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. Read more here.

Why is it so cold? What’s the influence of climate change?

Some scientists studying the connection between climate change and cold spells, which occur when cold Arctic air dips south, say that they may be related. But the importance of the relationship is not fully clear yet. Read more here.

Correction: January 4, 2018 
An earlier version of this article misidentified the state in which the Wilmington Star-News is located. It is in North Carolina, not Virginia.

Credit: Alan Blinder, Patricia Mazzei & Jess Bidgood, NYTimes

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