‘Bomb Cyclone’: Snow and Bitter Cold Blast the Northeast
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 5th January 2018
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Waves crashed over houses in Scituate, Mass., on Thursday. CreditScott Eisen/Getty Images

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. Read more here.

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Workers cleared the sidewalks in Boston on Thursday. “It’s going to look pretty rough out there,” Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said of conditions in the city. CreditSpencer Platt/Getty Images

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.

 

A snowy start to the day in Atlantic City, N.J., on Thursday. CreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press

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.