‘Bomb cyclone’ pushes east across U.S. after winter siege of Midwest, Rockies

A general view of the blizzard in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. March 13, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Mandatory credit TWITTER @PHOTOWILLG/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – A powerful, late-winter “bomb cyclone” storm pushed east into the U.S. Midwest and the Great Lakes region on Friday after bombarding the Rocky Mountain and Plains states with blizzards, floods and tornados, prompting precautions at a Nebraska nuclear power plant.

In Iowa, a disaster proclamation by Governor Kim Reynolds, issued after reports of flooding, remained in effect overnight.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts also issued an emergency declaration after rain-swollen rivers and dam breaches left many bridges and roads impassable and prompted thousands of residents of the farm state to evacuate.

“Widespread and extremely dangerous flooding will continue today and tonight,” the National Weather Service office in Omaha, Nebraska, said on Friday in a statement.

Many streams will see moderate to major flooding through the weekend, the service added, and flooding along the Missouri River will continue into next week.

The Nebraska Public Power District declared an “unusual event” at its Cooper Nuclear Station power plant on Friday due to the possibility of flooding along the Missouri.

Workers filled sandbags along the river levee and procured other materials for flood protection, the power agency said. It said the plant continued to operate safely and there was no threat to plant employees or to the public.

Thirteen tornados were reported on Thursday in Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan, said Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage.

Meteorologists referred to the storm as a “bomb cyclone,” a winter hurricane that forms when the barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours.

At the storm’s peak, 2 feet of snow was dumped on Colorado’s mountain regions, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,300 flights in Denver and trapping more than 1,000 motorists on roadsides. Many had to be rescued by police, who used school buses to ferry them to safety.

There were no remaining blizzard warnings Friday, Oravec said.

“There’s still a good threat of thunderstorms in Louisiana, Mississippi and up into the Great Lakes region as the system pushes into Canada, but it’s not like it was,” he said.

Most power outages were cleared by early Friday, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US, and air traffic returned to normal at Denver International Airport, a regional hub that was hardest hit by the storm.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; Additional reporting by Keith Coffman, Dan Whitcomb and Scott DiSavino; Editing by Mark Potter and Jonathan Oatis)

Colorado trooper killed as ‘Bomb Cyclone’ unleashes snow, high winds

A policeman talks to a driver as snow clogs the roads in Lone Tree, Colorado, U.S. in this March 13, 2019 handout photo. City of Lone Tree, Colo./Handout via REUTERS

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – A late-winter blizzard slammed U.S. Rocky Mountain and Plains states on Wednesday, unleashing a “bomb cyclone” of high winds and drifting snow that stranded motorists, canceled more than 1,300 airline flights and was blamed for the death of a Colorado state trooper.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency due to the storm and said he had activated the state National Guard to assist in search and rescue operations.

Corporal Daniel Groves, 52, of the Colorado State Patrol is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters March 13, 2019. Colorado State Police/Handout via REUTERS

Corporal Daniel Groves, 52, of the Colorado State Patrol is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters March 13, 2019. Colorado State Police/Handout via REUTERS

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas as schools and businesses were closed and local authorities urged residents to hunker down.

Meteorologists referred to the storm as a “bomb cyclone,” a winter hurricane that forms when the barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours.

“So far, we have received 110 traffic crash reports and #Denver remains on #AccidentAlert,” the Denver Police Department said on Twitter.

“If you absolutely have to head out, please be cautious- it’s still #snowgoing out there. Turn your lights on, set the wipers on high; don’t forget the extra stopping distance. #BombCyclone”

The Colorado State Patrol said one of its troopers, Corporal Daniel Groves, was struck by a car that veered out of control on Interstate 76 and he died of his injuries a short time later at Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton.

At the time, Groves, 52, was on the scene of another accident in which a vehicle had slid off the roadway, the state patrol said. It added that “high speed in poor driving conditions” was being investigated in connection with the crash that caused his death.

A general view of the blizzard in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. March 13, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Mandatory credit TWITTER @PHOTOWILLG/via REUTERS

A general view of the blizzard in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. March 13, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Mandatory credit TWITTER @PHOTOWILLG/via REUTERS

FLIGHTS DELAYED, CANCELED

All six runways at Denver International Airport were shuttered, along with the main road into the airport due to drifting, blowing snow. An airport spokesman said 1,339 flights had been canceled as of mid-afternoon. Colorado Springs Municipal Airport canceled all incoming flights.

All school districts in the seven-county Denver metropolitan were closed, along with most city and state government offices and many businesses.

Officials in El Paso County, Colorado, said some 1,100 motorists were stranded on Interstate 25 near Colorado Springs.

Utility company Xcel Energy said about 130,000 commercial and residential customers in Colorado were without power due to high winds and wet heavy snow.

“Limited visibility has affected our ability to respond,” Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz said, adding it was unclear when power would be restored.

The police department in Northglenn, Colorado, tweeted a picture of a large tree that fell on a home, breaking through the roof. It was not immediately clear if anyone was hurt.

Interstate 70 was closed east of Denver to the Kansas state line and sections of Interstate 25 were also shut down, according to Colorado Department of Transportation.

“They typically do get strong systems this time of the year in that part of the country, but this one is maybe a notch stronger than what you typically see,” said meteorologist Marc Chenard of the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Forecasters said they expect winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 kph) to sweep across a wide area of states to the south, including New Mexico and parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“Pretty much through much of the Plains there’s going to be a threat for potential power outage issues,” Chenard said.

More than 100,000 electric power customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were left in the dark early on Wednesday after a line of rain squalls associated with the system moved through the area.

The storm was also expected to bring heavy rain to areas of eastern Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota that already have a good deal of snow on the ground, raising the threat of river flooding, the weather service said.

The storm system is expected to weaken by Thursday as it moves over the Tennessee River Valley, bringing mostly rain from Michigan southward to the Gulf Coast and some remaining snow only in the far northern parts of the country, the weather service said.

(This story corrects name of Colorado governor in second paragraph)

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; additional reporting Peter Szekely in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Sandra Maler)

Blizzard threatens U.S. central plains with two feet of snow

A woman walks down the street during a blizzard in Long Beach, New York, U.S. January 4, 2018.

By Peter Szekely

(Reuters) – A late-winter storm this week could dump up to two feet (60 cm) of snow in the U.S. central Plains states, potentially snarling travel and bringing flooding to the Upper Midwest, U.S. forecasters said on Tuesday.

The storm, now brewing as low-pressure center in the southwest, will quickly move into the Rocky Mountains and deliver one to two feet of snow with blizzard conditions in much of Colorado and parts of Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota, the National Weather Service predicted.

The biggest air travel hub likely to be affected by the snow is Denver International Airport, but cross-continental air travel lanes could be disrupted as well as the system brings a line of rain squalls eastward, forecasters said.

“The snow will really start picking up by later tonight into the day on Wednesday,” meteorologist Mark Chenard said in a Tuesday phone interview from the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

The storm will also bring heavy rain to areas of eastern Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota that already have a good deal of snow on the ground, the NWS said.

“We could have the potential for major river flooding, given the rain and the snow melt,” Chenard said.

An earlier round of heavy, wet snow caused several roofs to collapse in the Upper Midwest last weekend, including those of a church and a hotel.

By Thursday, the storm system will weaken as it moves over the Tennessee River Valley, bringing mostly rain from Michigan southward to the Gulf Coast and some remaining snow only in the far northern parts of the country, he added.

 

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

Storms unleash tornadoes in U.S. east, record snow in Midwest

Dark clouds hover above buildings amidst tornadoes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the U.S., April 10, 2018 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Emmet Finneran/via REUTERS

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Deadly slow-moving storms generated record or near-record snowfall and low temperatures in the U.S. Midwest and tornadoes further east on Sunday, leaving airline travelers stranded and thousands without power.

In Michigan, where snowfall was expected to reach 18 inches in some areas, about 310,000 homes and businesses were without power because of an ice storm, most of them in the southeast of the state.

Large areas of Detroit were without power and customers were not expected to have it back on Sunday night, utility DTE Energy said. It was working to have 90 percent of outages restored by Tuesday, DTE spokeswoman Carly Getz said in a statement.

Cars are seen on a road during a tornado in Mountainburg, Arkansas, U.S., April 13, 2018 in this picture grab obtained from social media video. JOSHUA COLEMAN/via REUTERS

Cars are seen on a road during a tornado in Mountainburg, Arkansas, U.S., April 13, 2018 in this picture grab obtained from social media video. JOSHUA COLEMAN/via REUTERS

The weight of ice on power lines, coupled with high winds, caused more than 1,000 power lines to fall in Detroit and Wayne County, DTE said.

The worst of the snow was focused on the upper Great Lakes, with Green Bay, Wisconsin, seeing its second largest snowstorm ever after 23.2 inches fell as of Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

For the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, the April monthly record for snowfall of 21.8 inches (55 cm) was surpassed on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

Two tornadoes tore up trees and ripped apart homes in Greensboro and Reidsville, North Carolina, killing a motorist who was hit by a tree, according to Greensboro’s city manager, local media reported.

The storms stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest and were moving into the Northeast and New England.

Record low temperatures for the date were expected in Oklahoma City on Monday at 30 degrees F (-1 C), and in Kansas City, Missouri, at 25 F (-4 C), Hurley said.

On Friday, the weather system produced 17 reports of tornadoes in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas, with four people injured and 160 buildings damaged in a possible tornado in northwest Arkansas, local media reported.

The weather was blamed for two traffic deaths in western Nebraska and Wisconsin, according to National Public Radio.

The storms also killed a one-year-old girl when a tree fell on a recreational vehicle where she was sleeping, the sheriff’s office in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, said.

By Sunday night, 1,804 flights had been canceled into or out of U.S. airports, the website flightaware.com reported, including 148 flights in or out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Andrew Hay in Taos, N.M.; Editing by Adrian Croft and Peter Cooney)

Snowstorm, high winds, targets northern U.S. Plains, may stall spring planting

By Julie Ingwersen

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A blizzard is expected to bring high winds and 12 inches (30 cm) of snow or more to parts of South Dakota and Nebraska on Friday and Saturday, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday.

The snowfall, along with cold temperatures in the wake of the storm, could delay the planting of corn and spring wheat in the Dakotas and Minnesota into May.

Nebraska and Minnesota were the No. 3 and 4 corn producers last year in the United States, the world’s top supplier of the feed grain, and South Dakota was No. 6. For spring wheat, North Dakota and Minnesota are the top two U.S. growers.

“In addition to adding on to the snow pack in the northern Plains, it’s also a persistently cold pattern going forward,” said Joel Widenor, meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group, adding, “It’s going to make it tough to dry out the soil.”

The storm should dump 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) of snow across parts of South Dakota, Widenor said. The National Weather Service projected 12 to 18 inches across northern Nebraska and posted blizzard warnings for both states.

“At this point, it seems like it’s going to be out into May before we get our first chance at some warming,” Widenor said.

He noted that in a typical year, farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Nebraska by mid-May are at least halfway finished with seeding corn and spring wheat.

RAIN CHANCES IMPROVE FOR SOUTHERN PLAINS

Forecasting models indicated that another storm late next week could bring much-needed rain to the southern U.S. Plains winter wheat belt, although meteorologists were skeptical.

“The models definitely shifted wetter today versus where they have been the last couple days. But we are still very low confidence on that,” Widenor said.

The region’s hard red winter wheat has struggled with months of drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday rated 30 percent of the overall U.S. winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition, compared with 32 percent the previous week and 53 percent a year ago.

Widenor said his firm’s current forecast called for about half of the Plains hard red winter wheat belt to receive 0.25 to 1 inch of rain from the storm arriving April 20, with the other half, including west Texas, western Oklahoma and southwest Kansas, missing out.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Blizzard bears down on New England, knocking out power

A tractor stands covered in snow during a snowstorm in Huntington, New York, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) – Driving snow enveloped the U.S. Northeast on Tuesday in its third winter storm in two weeks, closing schools, canceling flights and knocking out power to about 140,000 homes and businesses.

The nor’easter was forecast to drop up to 20 inches (51 cm) of snow. It followed two storms that rumbled up the East Coast this month, killing at least nine people and knocking out power to about 2.4 million homes and businesses at their peak.

The storm stretched from New York state to Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. Forecasters warned of blizzard conditions, where high winds make travel dangerous, from coastal Massachusetts through Maine.

“We’re anticipating that we’ll be seeing through the mid- to late morning and probably into midafternoon snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour (up to 7.6 cm),” said Bob Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.

About 140,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey lost power as the storm downed trees and power lines.

“As soon as the snow stops and the wind stops blowing, we will be pushing the utilities to give people a sense of when the power will come back on,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told reporters on Tuesday. “They will move quickly and aggressively to deal with this once the snow stops.”

Schools in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, were shut on Tuesday, Maine’s state legislature canceled its session, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy closed all government offices and the Amtrak passenger rail line halted service between Boston and New York.

More than 1,500 U.S. flights were canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware. The hardest-hit airport was Boston Logan, where about four out of five flights were called off.

Nor’easters are storms that typically bring strong winds from the northeast, and they tend to occur most often and most violently between September and April along the East Coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.

Some nor’easters carry hurricane-force winds. Winds were expected to reach 65 miles (105 km) per hour, forecasters said.

This storm’s heavy snow could down trees weakened by the last two storms and bring a fresh wave of power outages, officials warned.

Lower tides meant the storm would probably not bring a repeat of the flooding that sent icy water pouring into the streets of Boston during a storm early this month, forecasters and officials said.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; editing by Bill Rigby and Jonathan Oatis)

China warns of second wave of snow after blizzard alert lifted

: A Chinese flag is seen in front of the Friendship bridge over the Yalu River connecting the North Korean town of Sinuiju and Dandong in China's Liaoning Province on April 1, 2017.

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China warned of a second wave of snow and sleet hitting northern, central and eastern parts on Friday after record snowfall paralyzed parts of the country in the most severe weather this winter.

Heavy snowfall has wreaked havoc in central and eastern China since Tuesday, killing 10 people and disrupting the lives of more than half a million people in five provinces, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Agriculture has also been hit, with economic losses amounting to 510 million yuan ($79 million) so far.

The National Meteorological Centre lifted a blizzard alert, but said light to moderate snowfall was expected to sweep across much of the north between Friday and Sunday.

Snow has disrupted public transport and energy supplies, damaged power lines and shut roads, airports and schools in parts of central China.

All power in Suizhou, a small city of 2.5 million people in the north of central Hubei province, was down due to heavy snow, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.

Temperatures in Suizhou are expected to plunge as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday.

Hubei, which does not have central heating infrastructure unlike northern provinces, has seen a spike in electricity consumption for heating, according to CCTV.

On Thursday, at least three airports were shut and nine were experiencing extensive delays because of heavy snowfall.

As of 0630 GMT on Friday, all airports in China were open, and only three airports faced delays, according to Chinese aviation data provider VariFlight.

Several high-speed trains from Shanghai and Beijing were also delayed or canceled on Thursday, and highways in the provinces of Jiangsu, Henan, Shaanxi and Hubei have also been closed off, the China Daily reported.

The ceilings of several bus stations in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province, had collapsed as a result of snow, resulting in at least one death, the newspaper said. The province saw a record 30 cm (12 inches) of snow on Thursday.

The roof of a factory in Xiangyang, also in Hubei province, collapsed, trapping five people, and traffic in the city ground to a halt, according to the state broadcaster, China National Radio.

CCTV footage on Friday also showed collapsed roofs of factories in Henan and Anhui provinces.

By contrast, Beijing has been dry, with many parts of northern China experiencing little to no snowfall.

(Reporting by David Stanway in SHANGHAI and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Judy Hua, Ryan Woo, Brenda Goh and Zhang Min; Editing by Nick Macfie)

In blizzard’s wake, northeastern U.S. brace for intense cold

A pedestrian walks through blinding snow across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.

By Scott Malone and Jonathan Allen

BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Street crews in the U.S. Northeast raced through the night into Friday to clear snow-clogged streets after a powerful blizzard and restore power to homes ahead of a brutal cold spell that has killed more than a dozen people.

From Baltimore to Caribou, Maine, efforts were under way to clear roadways of ice and snow as wind chill temperatures were to plunge during the day, reaching -40 F (-40 C) in some parts after sundown, according to the National Weather Service.

The brutal cold was forecast to reach from New England across to the Midwest and down to the Carolinas, forecasters warned, adding that low-temperature records could be broken across the broad region in the coming days.

“In a lot of New England, the highs will be in the single digits and the teens today, with intense wind chills,” said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with private forecasting service Accuweather. The cold will extend down to the mid-Atlantic states, he said.

“It can be very dangerous,” Pydynowski said. “Any kind of exposed skin can freeze in a couple of minutes.”

The cold also raised the risk that road salt would not work to melt ice, possibly leaving highway crews to shift over to sanding roads to improve traction, Massachusetts transportation officials said.

Utility companies across the East worked to repair downed power lines early on Friday as about 31,000 customers remained without electricity, down from almost 80,000 the day before, and issued warnings that temperatures may become dangerously low.

“If the temperature in your home begins to fall, we recommend taking shelter elsewhere until service can be restored,” National Grid power company, which serves Massachusetts, said on Twitter. “You can find warming centers by contacting local authorities.”

People walk in Times Square during a winter storm in Manhattan. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

17 DEATHS

The storm, with winds gusts of more than 70 miles per hour (113 kph), dumped a foot (30 cm) or more of snow throughout the region, including Boston and parts New Jersey and Maine, where heavy snow continued to fall early on Friday.

The wintry weather has been blamed for at least 17 deaths in the past few days, including three in North Carolina traffic accidents and three in Texas because of the cold.

Schools in Boston and Baltimore canceled classes Friday while New York was open and Newark, New Jersey, schools were to open two hours late.

Commuter railways serving New York and Boston’s suburbs were reporting extensive delays, as they worked to repair frozen equipment and clear snow-covered tracks.

The storm on Thursday caused a 3-foot (0.9-metre) tidal surge that flooded the area around Boston’s historic Long Wharf with icy seawater. Firefighters used an inflatable raft to rescue one motorist from a car submerged in water up to its door handles, Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn told reporters.

Communities outside Boston, including Scituate, also saw extensive flooding, with parking lots filled with water damaging unoccupied vehicles.

New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports resumed flights on Friday after closing in whiteout conditions a day earlier. More than 1,000 U.S. flights had been canceled early on Friday with New York’s three major airports and Boston Logan International Airport seeing the most cancellations.

The storm was powered by a rapid plunge in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters called a bombogenesis, or a “bomb cyclone.” It brought high winds and swift, heavy snowfall.

Nearly 500 members of the National Guard were activated along the East Coast to assist with emergency response, including 200 in New York state, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.

Officials reported traffic accidents throughout the Northeast and the storm’s reach extended to eastern Canada.

(Additonal reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Bill Trott)

Blizzard roars into U.S. Northeast, snarling travel

A lone visitor takes a picture near the brink of the ice covered Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Canada.

By Gina Cherelus and Scott Malone

NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) – The first major winter storm of 2018 bore down on the U.S. Northeast on Thursday, closing schools and government offices and disrupting travel as work crews scrambled to clear roads of snow before plummeting temperatures turn it to treacherous ice.

After bringing rare snowfall to the southeast a day earlier, the storm carried rapid accumulation and high winds to New York, where subway systems appeared less crowded than usual as many commuters heeded officials’ warnings to stay home.

Blizzard warnings were in place along the coast from North Carolina to Maine, with the National Weather Service forecasting winds as high as 55 miles per hour (89 kph) that may bring down tree limbs and knock out power.

More than a foot (30 cm) of snow was forecast for Boston and coastal areas in northern New England.

The storm is the product of a rapid and rare plunge in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters are referring to as bombogenesis, or the so-called “bomb cyclone.”

The term comes from the merging of two words: bomb and cyclogenisis, according to private forecaster AccuWeather.

On Wednesday, the storm dumped snow on Florida’s capital Tallahassee for the first time in 30 years, and was expected to last through the day.

About 3,000 airline flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled ahead of the storm’s arrival on Thursday, with New York’s three major airports and Boston’s Logan International seeing as many as three out of four flights called off, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.

Federal government offices planned to delay opening for two hours on Thursday, while state officials in Connecticut and Massachusetts ordered non-essential workers to stay home. In Maine, Governor Paul LePage ordered state offices closed for the day.

“Travel conditions are expected to be treacherous,” LePage said in a statement. “Avoiding unnecessary travel will keep accidents to a minimum and allow state and municipal road crews to safely go about their work.”

The snow storm brought a break in extreme cold temperatures that have gripped much of the region since Christmas, frozen part of the Niagara Falls, played havoc with public works and impeded firefighting in places where temperatures barely broke 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 centigrade).

But forecasters warned temperatures would drop sharply on Friday and into the weekend. That left work crews scrambling to clear snow off roadways and sidewalks on Thursday before it freezes to ice and makes conditions more treacherous for pedestrians and drivers alike.

“These are tough conditions to move around in, so if you don’t need to be on the road … you shouldn’t,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter. “Everyone needs to take this weather very seriously.”

Schools were ordered to close in New York, many parts of New Jersey, Boston and other cities through the region.

A woman walks down the street during a blizzard in Long Beach, New York, U.S. January 4, 2018.

A woman walks down the street during a blizzard in Long Beach, New York, U.S. January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

SOUTHERN SNOW

Private forecaster AccuWeather said snow would fall quickly during the day, at a rate of several inches per hour, with the storm intensified by the bombogenesis effect.

The phenomenon occurs when a storm’s barometric pressure drops by 24 millibars in 24 hours. As a result, the accumulation of snow and winds intensifies, which can cause property damage and power outages.

More than 35,000 customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia early on Thursday, utilities reported online.

A part of US-13 at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia was closed due to high winds early on Thursday while state transportation departments throughout the region reported dozens of delays due to deteriorating roads conditions.

Late on Wednesday, a baggage car and two sleeper cars on an Amtrak train traveling from Miami to New York, with 311 passengers aboard, derailed as it was slowly backing into a station in Savannah, Georgia. No one was injured, an Amtrak spokesman said.

The cold has been blamed for at least nine deaths over the past few days, including those of two homeless people in Houston.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Alison Williams and Bernadette Baum)

Blizzard blows into northeast U.S.; flights canceled, schools shut

Cars are covered in snow in a general parking lot during the snowstorm at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2017. Some Chicagoland areas received up to 5 inches of snow, and more than 400 flights were cancelled at O'Hare. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

By Daniel Trotta and Scott Malone

NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) – Snow piled up rapidly in parts of the northeastern United States on Tuesday as a blizzard began blowing in, with residents being advised to stay at home, airlines grounding flights and schools canceling classes.

The National Weather Service (NWS) warned some 50 million people from Pennsylvania to Maine of a “rapidly intensifying nor’easter” that was unusual for so late in the winter. Some could expect to find themselves surrounded by up to 2 feet (60 cm) of snow by early Wednesday, the federal agency predicted.

Governors in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia declared states of emergency.

New York City was expected to escape the worst of it after the NWS withdrew its blizzard warning for the city on Tuesday morning, replacing it with a mere “winter weather advisory.” The service sharply reduced its snowfall forecast for the city to between 4 and 8 inches (10 and 20 cm).

Still, city life already was disrupted with many New Yorkers already planning to stay home with hard-won groceries picked up from crowded stores the night before.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended above-ground portions of the city’s subway service and said the Metro-North commuter service to the suburbs would shut down at noon. Transit officials warned that more bus and train routes might be suspended throughout the day.

“Normally, with the geography of New York, we normally have it on the east side or the west side. But this is statewide,” Cuomo told MSNBC in an interview.

“We’ve been through this a number of times so we’re prepared for it. Airports are basically closed … Government is basically closed, schools are basically closed, so there’s no real reason to be on the roads and we made that clear yesterday.”

Some 2,000 members of the National Guard and 5,000 plows were deployed across the state, Cuomo said.

Workers clear frozen precipitation from a walkway at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Workers clear frozen precipitation from a walkway at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

AIR TRAFFIC SNARLED

Airlines canceled about 5,500 flights across the United States, according to tracking service FlightAware.com. The airports with the most cancellations were Newark in New Jersey, LaGuardia in New York and Boston Logan International Airport.

American Airlines <AAL.O> canceled all flights into New York’s three airports – Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport – and JetBlue Airways <JBLU.O> reported extensive cancellations.

Delta Air Lines <DAL.N> canceled 800 flights for Tuesday for New York, Boston and other northeast airports. United Airlines <UAL.N> said it would have no operations at Newark or LaGuardia.

“We’re keeping a close eye on things and depending on how things go, will plan to ramp back up Wednesday morning,” United said in a statement.

New York City public schools – the largest U.S. school system – canceled classes on Tuesday as did schools in the Washington, D.C., area, Boston, Philadelphia and northern New Jersey.

Federal agencies in Washington said they were opening three hours later than normal on Tuesday.

The storm comes near the end of an unusually mild winter along much of the East Coast, with below-normal snowfalls in cities such as New York City and Washington.

Boston was braced for up to a foot of snow, which forecasters warned would fall quickly during the storm’s peak. The double-murder trial in Boston of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was suspended for the day because of the weather.

Washington, a city that functions badly with even small amounts of snow, was expecting 5 inches (13 cm) and twice that in outlying areas.

Snow fall was to be heavy at times with as much as 4 inches an hour expected to fall with winds reaching up to 60 mph (100 kph) in parts of the northeast, the National Weather Service warned.

Coastal flood warnings were also in effect for several parts of the region as a storm surge is expected during high tide on Tuesday, the weather service said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was due to meet President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday, postponed her trip until Friday, the White House said.

Shelves are seen scarce with bread at a Trader Joe's grocery store ahead of a fast-moving winter storm expected to hit the northeastern United States, in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Shelves are seen scarce with bread at a Trader Joe’s grocery store ahead of a fast-moving winter storm expected to hit the northeastern United States, in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Laila Kearney and Jonathan Allen in New York and Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Louise Ireland and Bill Trott)