A winter storm has caused travel chaos on the US north-east and is being blamed for up to 17 deaths and many problems in public transport. The storm, known as a “bomb cyclone”, is expected to continue to affect eastern North America into the weekend.
More than 3,300 US flights were canceled on Thursday as snow blanketed parts of New York and New England, as well as eastern Canada. Boston could get up to 18in (45cm) of snow, while New York City is bracing for up 1ft, say forecasters.
The only nuclear plant in Massachusetts was shut in the afternoon hours, because of the failure of a line that connects the reactor to the power grid. Entergy Corp, which operates the Pilgrim Station, said it had not identified the cause of the line problem. ISO New England, which operates the region’s power grid, attributed the shutdown to blizzard conditions. The company did not say when the station would restart.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says Boston could get 12 to 18 inches of snow before the storm moves out of Massachusetts.
“We are going to continue to monitor the forecast and deploy every resource necessary to make sure our neighborhoods are safe,” he said at a news conference.
Utilities in the Southeast have restored service to some customers who were hit by the storm overnight.
“The situation has continued to deteriorate,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he declared a state of emergency on Thursday.
“It’s almost impossible to clear roads when you have those high wind gusts because as soon as you clear the road the snow, the wind literally just brings the snow back on to the road.”
Heavy snow pounded the East Coast from Maine as far south as North Carolina on Thursday, taking out power lines, icing roadways, and closing schools. The storm was powered by a rapid plunge in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters referred to as bombogenesis or a “bomb cyclone”, which brought high winds and swift, heavy snowfall.
Approximately 500 National Guard members have been activated along the East Coast to assist with the ongoing winter storm, according to the Department of Defense.
“The main focus is assisting with transportation support and vehicles. No federal assets have been requested at this point,” Defense spokesman Lt. Colonel Jamie Davis said in a statement.
National Guard members were activated in New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
A “bomb cyclone” or “weather bomb” is an unofficial term for what is known as explosive cyclogenesis, according to BBC Weather.
This occurs when the central pressure of a low-pressure system falls by 24 millibars in 24 hours and can result in violent winds developing around the system.
The winds can be strong enough to bring down trees and cause structural damage.
The storm is forecast to undergo rapid cyclogenesis over the Atlantic Ocean throughout Thursday and into the weekend, and current projections show areas north of New York as having the highest risk of significant impacts from strong winds and heavy snow.