On TV, the gathering of people celebrating on Times Square as is fashion on the eve of the New Year seemed such a routine occurrence. Only when one of the featured performers, Mariah Carey himself, made mention of the biting cold does it become clear that just being outside that evening would be a struggle even when bundled up. That was made all the more obvious a few days later on Wednesday, when a significant part of the Eastern seaboard was hammered by ice and snow in one of the most epically severe winter storms to hit in recent history.
The Washington Post has it that a wide swathe of the East Coast, from Massachusetts to even Florida was affected by extreme temperature lows following a drop in atmospheric pressure that was dubbed by meteorologists as a “bomb cyclone.” The effects of this weather anomaly were spectacular: flooding in a Boston subway station, water pipes cracking as far south as North Carolina, and Florida iguanas so taken by the surprise cold that they fall unconscious – and drop from trees unmoving until sufficiently warmed up again. Heavy snow and high winds pummeled the northeast through the evening of Thursday, January 4.
An advisory by the National weather Service warned of possible power outages in several areas on account of the strong winds; and indeed, a total of 100,000 Eastern customers found their lights going out during the bomb cyclone. 45,000 of these were in Virginia, though half of them got their power restored by Thursday afternoon. Flight cancellations were at an all-time high, with a total of 5,000 done across the country. In New York City and Boston, two-thirds of the combined inbound and outbound flights were cancelled. Over a million local school children got to stay in following cancellation of classes.
Sadly, this bomb cyclone has also claimed casualties. In North Carolina, three motorists were killed when snow on the roads caused their cars to spin out. In Pennsylvania, another vehicle unable to brake at the bottom of a snow-covered hill ended up being hit by a commuter train headed for Philadelphia, resulting in the death of a passenger in the car. For this reason, state and local officials strongly urged people to remain indoors rather than brave the potentially dangerous cold outside. A total 28 cities in New England, Eastern New York and the Mid-Atlantic predicted some record low temperatures.
The bomb cyclone responsible for all this havoc came into being Tuesday at the Gulf of Mexico, first passing Florida before unleashing its cold fury further north. Fortunately, the storm is noted to be fast and is expected to be away late Thursday night, with blizzard warnings expiring by then.
Photo courtesy of indiatimes.com