ENVIRONMENT
01/02/2018 10:14 pm ET Updated Jan 03, 2018

Winter Storm Hitting East Coast Could Shatter All-Time Cold Temperature Records

"It will be massive," one forecaster wrote on Twitter.

A powerful winter storm continued bearing down on the eastern United States on Wednesday evening, bringing frigid temperatures, snow and ice to parts of the country that rarely see such weather.

“Bitter cold and dangerous wind chills” as far south as the Florida panhandle and as far north as Maine are expected to persist into the weekend, the National Weather Service said Wednesday evening. There is a probability that the “bomb cyclone” will bring at least four more inches of snow to parts of the region by Friday night, the agency warned. 

Cold temperatures earlier this week have already left several people dead, with The Associated Press reporting at least a dozen deaths and Reuters reporting eight deaths.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday evening that schools would be closed Thursday. But some National Weather Service outposts in southern states said precipitation had subsided. 

“The snow, sleet, and freezing rain are over, but the next few days will stay very cold!” the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida, said Wednesday evening. This was the first time the city had seen measurable snow, though totals ranged from trace amounts to half an inch

The Weather Channel said temperatures in the Florida capital were lower than those in Anchorage, Alaska. A portion of Interstate 10 in northern Florida shut down due to the extreme conditions, also causing both the Charleston International Airport and the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to close down. 

Parts of Niagara Falls had also frozen over by Wednesday.

“Bomb cyclones” form when a weather system rapidly drops in pressure and quickly intensifies ― a process called bombogenesis, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

“Reinforcing shots of arctic air will continue across much of the Eastern half of the country through this week keeping afternoon highs as much as 10 to 20 degrees below normal,” the agency said Tuesday.

The Washington Post notes the storm will “in many ways resemble a winter hurricane” and said the event could be one of the region’s most intense in decades. 

Forecasters also warned Wednesday evening that 1 to 3 inches of snow could fall from southern New England up to the Cape Cod Canal through Thursday evening. The worst blizzard conditions are expected in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The entire state of Maine is susceptible to blizzard conditions, The Weather Channel noted, as are parts of southern New Hampshire and eastern Long Island.

Winds in some areas are expected to blow between 30 mph and 50 mph, and will be especially strong over the ocean, where they’ll approach hurricane force. 

Mashable’s Andrew Freedman noted that the storm could pull bitterly cold air down from the North Pole to parts of the Eastern Seaboard. Temperatures could drop low enough to shatter some records, Freedman wrote: 

“The cold weather that will result is going to be more frigid than anything that residents of the Midwest and East Coast have experienced so far during what has been an unusually intense and long-lasting cold snap. Instead of breaking daily temperature records, as dozens of cities have been, all-time cold temperature records will be threatened on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”

The weather should warm up by early next week, but the ongoing frigid temperatures could make the start of 2018 one of the coldest on record.  

This story has been updated with additional reports and forecasts about the storm on Wednesday.

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