'Bombogenesis' takes aim at U.S. Northeast as snow sweeps South

From Reuters - January 3, 2018

CHARLESTON, S.C./BOSTON (Reuters) - A rare winter storm hit the U.S. Southeast on Wednesday, bringing Floridas capital its first snow in three decades and snarling travel, while New England braced for a bombogenesis blizzard forecast to bring heavy accumulations on Thursday.

The governors of Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency, warning residents to expect icy roads and unseasonable freezing temperatures. In the northeast, work crews loaded trucks with road salt in advance of the storm.

Much of the eastern United States is in the grips of a sustained cold spell that has frozen parts of Niagara Falls on the American and Canadian sides, played havoc with public works causing pipes to freeze and water mains to burst, and impeded firefighting in places where temperatures barely broke 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cold has been blamed for at least nine deaths over the past few days, including two homeless people in Houston. Police in Roseville, Michigan, said on Wednesday that a 96-year-old woman, recently diagnosed with dementia, was found dead in a playground, apparently having frozen to death after wandering outside in a robe and slippers.

The U.S. National Weather Service had blizzard warnings in effect from Virginia to Maine, with areas around Boston expected to see about a foot (30 cm) of snow on Thursday.

Forecasters warned that snow would fall quickly during the day, at a rate of several inches per hour, with the storm intensified by the bombogenesis effect, according to private forecaster Accuweather.

The bombogenesis effect, also known as a bomb cyclone, occurs when a storms barometric pressure drops by 24 millibars in 24 hours, greatly strengthening the storm.

The effect is seen along the northeastern coast every winter, but this storm will be particularly powerful, said Judah Cohen, a visiting scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This one is unique in how quickly the pressure is going to fall, Cohen said. The pressures could rival a Category 1 or Category 2 hurricane.



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