A historically powerful winter storm churning up the East Coast brought snowfall and gusting winds to a wide swath of the United States on Thursday. Airlines canceled thousands of flights and schools and offices were shuttered, while forecasters issued dire warnings for the millions of people still in the storm’s path about the cold days ahead.
The storm strengthened into a “bomb cyclone,” the dramatic name for what happens when a storm’s pressure plummets as it explosively intensifies — and this particular storm is among the most explosive ever observed on the East Coast.
After first blasting the Southeast with cold and snow, dropping up to 6 inches on the Carolinas, the storm hugged the coastline and continued to head north. The National Weather Service said the monster storm “will continue to rapidly intensify through Thursday night,” moving quickly up the East Coast. And while the heaviest precipitation is expected to remain over the Atlantic Ocean, some of the “significant snow” will impact areas stretching from North Carolina to Maine, the Weather Service said Thursday.
Already, the storm has frozen daily routines for scores of Americans, closing roads, schools and offices alike. More than 4,500 flights on Thursday were canceled, according to FlightAware.com, most of them traveling through airports in Boston and the New York area, key hubs in the national aviation system.
School systems canceled classes from Florida to Massachusetts in response to the storm. The New York City school system — the country’s largest — was shuttered Thursday, along with schools in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and the District.
The federal government opened late, and other state and local government offices also delayed their openings or were closed for the day. The NHL canceled a hockey game scheduled in Boston, where temperatures are expected to drop to the single digits, between the Bruins and the Florida Panthers, who normally play in an area where temperatures will reach the high 50s on Thursday.