A winter snowstorm known as a “bomb cyclone” blanketed the northeastern United States on Friday, canceling hundreds of flights, closing schools and causing treacherous driving conditions.
Meteorologists say the weather phenomenon is effectively a winter hurricane that occurs when air pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, bringing heavy downfalls and strong winds.
The storm brought snow to Kentucky, Nashville and Tennessee, then Virginia and the Washington DC area before heading north up the Atlantic seaboard.
“When it rapidly intensifies close to the coast, it can mean a big storm for the east coast cities,” Tom Kines, senior meteorologist at Accuweather, told AFP.
The National Weather Service recorded more than eight inches of snow at New York City’s LaGuardia airport, where 340 flights were cancelled as of 9:15 am (1415 GMT).
The number was “expected to increase,” the airport said in a tweet.
Nearby JFK airport reported 220 flight cancellations while 250 flights were cancelled at Logan International Airport in Boston.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said that the highest snowfall recorded so far was 18 inches in Cheektowaga in upstate New York on the border with Canada.
Several inches of snow closed hundreds of schools in Massachusetts but in New York City, where plows spread out across the metropolis, Eric Adams kept public schools open.
“Children need to get in school,” he said, referencing previous closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We don’t have any more days to waste and the long-term impact of leaving our childhood home is going to impact us for years to come,” he said.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency, sparking some school districts to call Friday a “snow day.”
“We urge all New Jerseyans to stay off the roads, stay updated, and stay safe,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.
Meteorologist Kines said the storm would move north, with freezing temperatures and high winds bringing “blizzard conditions” to parts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in Canada on Friday night.
The NWS said a winter storm warning was in effect in Maine.