Airlines have canceled over 2,700 flights and extremely hazardous driving conditions are expected throughout the Eastern seaboard late Wednesday and into Thursday thanks to a major winter storm that will bring blizzard conditions from the coastlines of Maine all the way to Virginia.
Most of the flight cancellations were for flights scheduled to depart or arrive at some of the large Northeast airports, including Boston’s Logan International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark International Airport.
According to FlightAware, nearly 600 flights have been delayed. The total number of cancellations for Thursday is approaching 2,800 flights.
Many of the large domestic carriers, including American, Southwest, United, Delta, and JetBlue, announced travel waivers for more than a dozen East Coast destinations.
A surfer enjoys ‘slurpee waves’ just off Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. Slurpee waves are waves that include slushy water and ice
The bitter cold temperatures in New England have caused the formation of slurpee waves, or waves that have almost frozen over entirely
A slurpee wave that looks entirely frozen is seen above off of Nantucket on Wednesday
Ahead of an incoming winter snow storm, a sailboat sits in the frozen waters of the Atlantic Ocean harbour between Winthrop and Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday
Ice begins to collect at the base of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on Wednesday
Ahead of an incoming winter snow storm, a Jet Blue flight waits to take off from Logan International Airport in Boston on Wednesday
Pedestrians stop to photograph the frozen Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in New York on Wednesday
A person walks in the snow on King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. The National Weather Service on Wednesday recorded 5 inches of snow in Charleston, as a winter storm blasted the Southeast coast and dumped snow as far south as Florida
Snow covers the frozen water of Lake Smith in Virginia Beach, Virginia late Wednesday afternoon
Sid Rismani skis behind a car on Waterway Blvd. while heavy snow comes down on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina, on Wednesday
Alex Shipes jumps along the beach with other friends while heavy snow comes down at the Isle of Palms, South Carolina on Wednesday
Work crews from Georgia Department of Transportation snow plow a section of Interstate 95 on Wednesday
Ramon Martinez takes advantage of little car traffic to pull a sleigh filled with his children Amy and Anthony down Bull Street toward Monterey Square in Savannah, Georgia on Wednesday
Ice covers various plants at Calo Farms LLC in Panama City, Florida on Wednesday
Richard Campsen skis behind a car on Waterway Blvd. while heavy snow comes down on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina on Wednesday
Finley Bork, 7, sleds down a hill, while being chased by a playful dog, on a golf course at the Isle of Palms, South Carolina on Wednesday
Vehicles move along a snow and ice covered Interstate 26, near Savannah, Georgia on Wednesday
Debra Zumstein, left, and Will Kazary, right, push their son Alexander Kazary on a sled in a park in Savannah on Wednesday
People attend to their vehicle on Interstate 26 near Savannah. The freezing rain which fell in Savannah on Wednesday morning also made travel extremely difficult in some areas
That means passengers scheduled to fly Thursday or Friday either into or out of the East Coast will not be charged a fee – which is usually $200 – if they wish to re-schedule their flights, according to the Dallas Morning News.
American Airlines plans to cancel all flights scheduled for Thursday at Logan Airport because of the forecast calling for snow and high winds, and reduce the number of flights at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and LaGuardia.
The storm was also starting to snarl air travel in the southern United States, with about fifty percent of flights canceled at airports in South Carolina’s Charleston and Myrtle Beach and Savannah, Georgia, according to FlightAware.
Jacksonville International Airport is running with delays due to the snow, while Charleston International Airport in South Carolina, and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia, have been closed completely as the Arctic storm sweeps up the coast in what is expected to be the region’s most intense winter hurricane in decades.
Charleston airport said on Twitter that Joint Base Charleston, which shares runways with the U.S. Air Force, was closed because of ice and would not reopen until the Air Force determined the runways were safe.
The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport also announced in a statement about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday that it had closed as ice and snow fell on the Georgia coast.
Temperatures in most parts of New England and the mid-Atlantic coast will be well below freezing
The areas that are expected to be hardest hit by snowfall are in New England – particularly Maine and New Hampshire. The areas on the banks of the Great Lakes are also likely to see about a foot of snow
According to The Weather Channel , blizzard warnings are in effect for northeastern Maine; the Massachusetts coastline, including Boston; Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island; The Jersey shore region; much of Delaware; and Norfolk, Virginia
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 storm’s barometric pressure drops by 24 millibars in 24 hours, greatly strengthening the storm
The storm will also bring strong wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour in Massachusetts, particularly in Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island
The whipping winds are likely to cause down trees and power outages, particularly in the upper half of New England, where some areas could see wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour
Coastal flood alerts have been issued for areas stretching from Portland, Maine; down through Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Boston, Massachusetts; Cape Cod; and Nantucket
A satellite map from Wednesday evening shows the storm over the Atlantic Ocean making its way toward the Eastern seaboard of the US
Much of the country was gripped by unseasonably cold weather on Wednesday
A rare winter storm hit the US Southeast on Wednesday, bringing Florida’s 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 US National Weather Service had blizzard warnings in effect from Virginia to Maine, with areas around Boston expected to see about a foot 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 storm’s 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.’
An arctic air mass will remain entrenched over the eastern two-thirds of the United States through the end of the week.
At a press conference, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster warned people in the eastern part of the state to stay indoors if possible and to keep pets indoors.
‘If they can’t get in the heat, they’ll freeze to death, and they’ll be gone,’ McMaster said.
‘And the same thing will happen to people. So you have to be careful about that.’
TREACHEROUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS ON EAST COAST
Airlines have already canceled 500 US flights on Wednesday because of a winter storm socking the Southeast, and many more will be scuttled Thursday as the brunt of the winter weather is expected to hit the Northeast.
Tracking service FlightAware.com says more than 2,700 flights have been canceled Thursday.
More than half the flights scheduled for Thursday at Boston Logan International Airport had been scrubbed, and so had nearly half the flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Two other New York-area airports, JFK and Newark, were also hit hard along with smaller airports in the Northeast.
JetBlue has a major operation in Boston. It canceled about 400 flights through Thursday along the East Coast.
Most airlines were letting customers change reservations without incurring a fee, usually up to $200 on US flights.
An American Airlines spokesman says the airline plans to cancel its flights scheduled for Thursday at Boston Logan International Airport because of the forecast calling for snow and high winds.
Spokesman Ross Feinstein says the airline will try to avoid leaving planes at Logan overnight Wednesday for fear they would be stranded there.
He added that depending on airport conditions, American might attempt some arrivals Thursday evening after the snow ends.
Feinstein says American also expects to reduce operations at Bradley International Airport in in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and to reduce flights of smaller American Eagle and shuttle flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
American does not expect as much disruption to its operations in Washington or Philadelphia on Thursday.
The snow and ice moving into South Carolina has prompted officials to close Charleston International Airport.
The airport said in a twitter message that Joint Base Charleston has closed the runways because of ice.
The airport shares runways with the US Air Force at the North Charleston facility.
The airport said flight operations would not resume until the Air Force determines the runways are safe for aircraft and passengers.
Driving has also proved hazardous on Wednesday.
An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 from Tallahassee eastward to Live Oak was closed Wednesday morning due to slick conditions, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
The freezing rain which fell in Savannah on Wednesday morning also made travel extremely difficult in some areas.
Portions of I-95 were closed near Savannah as the roadway became slick Wednesday morning.
In historic Charleston, South Carolina, the winter storm shuttered carriage horse tour companies after a horse slipped and fell on ice during a tour on Tuesday, city spokesman Jack O’Toole said.
Two of the South’s iconic coastal cities are weathering their heaviest snowfall in nearly 30 years.
The National Weather Service on Wednesday recorded 5 inches of snow in Charleston.
Across the Georgia-South Carolina state line, the weather service reported 1.2 inches of snowfall in Savannah.
Those are the highest accumulations recorded in either city since December 23, 1989, when Charleston saw a record 6 inches of snow.
Savannah had 3.2 inches on the same date – its second-highest snowfall on record.
The wintry mix and low wind chills caused widespread power outages and icy roads, making commuting treacherous for millions of Americans from northern Florida to southern Virginia, the National Weather Service said.
Two to 3 inches of snow were expected in northeastern Florida, coastal Georgia and South Carolina, weather service meteorologist Bob Oravec said.
The weather service said its Tallahassee office had measured a snow and sleet accumulation of 0.1 inch on its roof, the first time Florida’s capital has had snow since 1989.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ordered schools closed on Thursday, warning city residents that the peak of the storm would occur during the day, making travel extremely dangerous.
‘Both rush hours will be affected,’ Walsh told a news conference.
‘Be patient. With the amount of snow we’re getting here, we could be plowing your street and a half hour later it could look like we haven’t been there.’
According to The Weather Channel, blizzard warnings are in effect for northeastern Maine; the Massachusetts coastline, including Boston; Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island; The Jersey shore region; much of Delaware; and Norfolk, Virginia.
The storm will also bring strong wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour in Massachusetts, particularly in Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island.
The whipping winds are likely to cause down trees and power outages.
Other parts of New England could see wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour.
The winds taper off a bit as you move southward on the map. Winds in the New York City metropolitan area are likely to have gusts of up to 40 miles per hour.
Weather warnings have also forced school closures across the region just as students were set to return after a winter break.
Officials in Florida were forced to close a section of Interstate 10 after less than an inch of snow fell as far south as Tallahassee for the first time in decades as the officials warned that dangerous driving conditions persist across the area.
In Jacksonville, the mayor told non-essential city employees to stay home on Wednesday.
Ice forms on a breakwall along Lake Erie with the city of Cleveland in the background, Wednesday. Dangerously cold temperatures have gripped wide swaths of the U.S. from Texas to New England
Sea ice floats in Boston Harbor, Wednesday, where blizzard like conditions are expected to hit later this week
Icicles hang from the ‘Welcome to Hilliard sign’ in Hilliard, Florida, Wednesday, after a brutal winter storm scattered a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain from normally balmy Florida
Sydney Freed, 4, throws one of her first ever snowballs at her father, Wednesday, after snow swept through Savannah, Georgia
Seeing her first winter weather, 9-month-old Roxie, eats snow off the ground of the public basketball courts at Forsyth Park, Wednesday, in Savannah, where a brutal winter storm scattered a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain from normally balmy Florida up the Southeast seaboard
Crews work to repair downed utility lines along highway 301 near Hilliard, Florida, Wednesday, after snow fell in the sunshine state
An Arctic storm is set to sweep up the East Coast this week, bringing record-breaking cold and snowfalls as far south as Florida and as northern as Maine A frozen fountain in Historic Forsyth Park still works despite freezing temperatures and rain, Wednesday, in Savannah, which will see its first snowfall since 2010
The airport remains closed as icy rain lashes the coastal city that hasn’t seen measurable snowfall since February 2010. With two inches of snow predicted this evening, dump trucks are out this morning spreading salt on the streets.
Mayor Eddie DeLoach urged residents to stay home and keep off the roads.
‘The streets will be slick,’ DeLoach told a news conference Tuesday.
‘We could have some serious issues for folks who aren’t used to driving in this kind of weather.’
Those who braved the frigid commute found police had closed many bridges, overpasses and elevated roadways that had become treacherous with ice.
Nick McCready said ‘there are accidents all over.’
The freezing temperatures have already claimed a dozen lives in the past week and East Coast residents are now bracing for the next hit of ‘bitterly cold temperatures’.
‘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 National Weather Service said.
And it’s not just the East Coast, the entire US is freezing – with at least one place in every state hitting the below freezing mark yesterday, meteorologists said, which is expected to happen again today.
‘At least one spot in every state was below freezing, even Florida and certainly Texas,’ Accuweather senior meteorologist Rob Miller told the New York Post.
The phenomenon happens a couple of times a year, but this time the southern states are reporting unusually low temperatures.
‘Places like Florida and the Deep South don’t get that cold usually, but even they have gotten temps in the upper 20s,’ he said. ‘That is certainly unusual.’
New York City will get hit with between 5 and 8 inches in the five boroughs, while up to a foot of snow is expected in Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island.
Wind chill temperatures in New York are also expected to plunge to minus 20 on Friday.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency through Friday for 28 counties because of the frigid weather.
Snow began falling in Tallahassee early Wednesday – a rare occurrence in the Florida city. Accumulation of 3 to 5 inches was possible in eastern North Carolina.
In central Florida, the state’s largest theme parks announced that water attractions such as Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay and SeaWorld’s Aquatica were closed Wednesday because of the cold snap.
Farmers are also keeping a close eye on their citrus and strawberries crops which can die if exposed to 28 degrees or less for at least three hours.
Growers will be running irrigation systems to protect the fruit as temperatures plunge to that crucial point.
Of course it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Tallahassee residents who haven’t seen snow for years were excited by the downfall.
Sharon Rosenberg is a 35-year-old physical therapist who has lived in the state capital her entire life.
Rosenberg and her two young children and husband bundled up and went outside early in the morning hoping to catch a glimpse of the snow falling.
She says she didn’t think it was going to happen, and then ‘literally two seconds later it started snowing.’
She and her children caught snowflakes on their tongues and made small snowballs.
The weather has also had a bizarre effect on wildlife.
A shark conservation group says a fourth thresher shark has been found frozen off the coast of Cape Cod, in an ice pack near Wellfleet. Three other sharks washed ashore last week.
Authorities believe all the sharks succumbed to cold shock. Cape Cod Bay’s surface temperature sank to 41 degrees last week.
Scientists believe thresher sharks are impaired when exposed to waters below 44 degrees.
Meanwhile, back on land in Brunswick, Georgia, on the Atlantic coast, law enforcement agencies reported freezing rain and ice on bridges early Wednesday in south Georgia as a winter storm revved up along the East Coast.
Brunswick police reported on their official Twitter account that area bridges had begun to ice up.
The icy conditions also were hampering early morning travel in Florida, as authorities were forced to shut a stretch of Interstate 10 east of Tallahassee.
In other parts of the US, dangerously cold temperatures have been blamed for at least a dozen deaths as well as freezing a water tower in Iowa and halting ferry service in New York.
Vincent Sottile, center, and his brother Mike Sottile play hockey on the public tennis courts at Forsyth Park, Wednesday, in Savannah
Florida kids make snow angels on their trampoline in their backyard as snow falls in Florida – the first state hit by the bomb cyclone sweeping up the coast
Excitable kids make snow angels in Florida – some of the few who get to enjoy the wintery weather which is causing chaos across the region
Janice Sanders shops for extra bread at the Piggly Wiggly in New Bern, N.C., Wednesday. Store manager Chris Creel says they have sold most of the recent bread deliveries as residents prepare for winter weather across North Carolina
Store manager Chris Creel, at left, helps customers at checkout at the Piggly Wiggly which he says has been especially busy with grocery shoppers because of the forecast of snowy weather across the eastern North Carolina region
Teresa Kramer feeds milk to a calf in the heated calf nursery on the farm she and her husband own in Farley, Iowa., where livestock farmers have spent the first days of the year grappling with bitter cold
A utility boat is surrounded by ice at the Thorns Creek in the Trade Winds Marina, Wednesday, in Hazlet Township, on the New Jersey Shore, which has been experiencing deep cold weather
In Mississippi, 45-year-old Kerry Merritt of Plantersville died Tuesday morning at a Tupelo hospital after being found unresponsive on her porch.
Authorities say a 96-year-old woman died of exposure after apparently wandering away from her suburban Detroit home, wearing just a nightgown, robe and slippers, and being overcome by the cold.
The woman, who lived alone and had dementia, was found Tuesday on the playground of Dort Elementary School, near her home.
Two homeless men were found dead in Houston, police there announced Wednesday.
Chief Art Acevedo said the deaths were believed to be the result of ‘exposure to frigid weather’ but the investigation was ongoing.
Police in St Louis found a homeless man dead inside a trash bin on Monday evening, frozen to death as the temperature dropped to -6F, the Guardian reported.
A 27-year-old woman was found dead from exposure on Monday evening on the shore of Lake Winnebago, in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.
While the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office said two men found dead on Sunday may have died of hypothermia.
A man, found dead by a river in Bismarck, North Dakota, may have also died form the cold, police believe.
One person was killed, and another seriously injured, in a 75 vehicle pileup that shut down a section of a New York highway on Tuesday as chilling temperatures hit much of the Northeast in the New Year.
Another 11 were transported to hospitals in the Buffalo area after the pileup on the New York State Thruway from Depew to the Pembroke exit that happened just before 2pm.
Meanwhile a homeless man who stowed away on an Ohio River barge had a lucky escape after nearly freezing to death in frigid weather.
The coal barge’s crew called 911 early Tuesday after finding the man hiding inside the vessel’s hold. He was rescued and treated for ‘extreme cold exposure.’
Warming shelters have been set up along the East Coast for the homeless in such icy temperatures.
Indianapolis early Tuesday tied a record low of minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit for January 2 set in 1887, leading Indianapolis Public Schools to cancel classes. And the northwest Indiana city of Lafayette got down to minus 19, shattering the previous record of minus 5 for the date, set in 1979, the National Weather Service said.
After residents there began complaining of a hum, Duke Energy said it was caused by extra power surging through utility lines to meet electricity demands.
‘The temperatures are certainly extreme, but we’ve seen colder,’ said Joseph Nield, a meteorologist in Indianapolis, noting that the all-time low temperature in Indiana was minus 36 in 1994.
Nevertheless, the cold is nothing to trifle with, forecasters warned.
With Chicago-area wind chills expected between -35 and -20 degrees, forecasters warned of frost bite and hypothermia risks and urged residents to take precautions, including dressing in layers, wearing a hat and gloves, covering exposed skin and bringing pets indoors.
Atlanta hospitals were seeing a surge in emergency room visits for hypothermia and other ailments as temperatures plunge well below freezing.
The temperature in Atlanta fell to 13 degrees before dawn on Tuesday.
‘We have a group of patients who are coming in off the street who are looking to escape the cold – we have dozens and dozens of those every day,’ said Dr. Brooks Moore, associate medical director in the emergency department of Grady Health System, which operates Georgia’s largest hospital in Atlanta.
Children from the Hoffman and Lynns families build a snowman on the public basketball courts in Forsyth Park, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Savannah, Ga. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency through Friday for at least 28 counties because of the frigid weather. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
An ice formation is seen along the edge of the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, Wednesday, as bitterly cold temperatures gripped much of the nation
Chunks of ice forms along the shore of the Raritan Bay near the pier at Jersey Shore Beach and Boardwalk, Wednesday
Kenneth Freeman, carries his daughter Alora, 8, as they visit a frozen water fountain downtown in Atlanta, Wednesday
A New Jersey State Police boat, in view of The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, returns to its berth in Camden, N.J., through ice on the Delaware River, Wednesday
Michele King, 26, wrapped up in a hat and scarf, looks out over frozen Lake Erie, Wednesday, in Cleveland
Road salt is loaded into a truck surrounded by mountains of salt at Eastern Minerals Inc., Wednesday, in the Boston suburb of Chelsea
Warming shelters were opened across the South as freeze watches and warnings blanketed the region, including hard freeze warnings for much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Plunging temperatures in Texas brought rare snow flurries as far south as Austin, and accidents racked up on icy roads across the state.
In the central Texas city of Abilene, the local police chief said more than three dozen vehicle crashes were reported in 24 hours.
In New York, transportation officials suspended the Newburgh-Beacon commuter ferry service on Tuesday because of icy conditions on the Hudson River.
Just north, the city of Poughkeepsie saw a record-breaking low of minus 10 degrees on New Year’s Day.
A pedestrian’s makeshift raincoat blows in the rainy cold weather Wednesday, along Philips Highway in Jacksonville, Florida
Tony Sampson, who received a blanket from Star of Hope’s Love in Action van, tries to warm up by a fire under the Eastex Freeway, in Houston
Ice covers large portions of the Hudson River near Beacon, New York, Wednesday, testing the mettle of even winter-wise northerners
Zach Beekley, left, Adalyn Walcott, center, Vance Walcott, right, and Gannon Walcott, top right, play on the ice on Stoyer’s Dam at Bubeck Park in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania
In Savannah, where January’s average high is 60 degrees, the temperature hovered at 30 at noon Tuesday, cold enough for icicles to dangle from the ornate wrought-iron fountain in Forsyth Park at the edge of the city’s downtown historic district.
‘I’ve never seen icicles in Savannah, period,’ said Sean Dempsey, a local restaurant manager who wore a hat, gloves and a thick coat to walk his dogs Tuesday.
‘I’m pretty sure last year at New Year’s lots of families were in the park playing catch, Frisbee football and stuff like that.’
Making the most of the South’s bitter cold snap, the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro offered discounted tickets for those willing to brave the cold to see polar bears frolic in their kind of weather, along with Arctic foxes and elk.
Nonetheless, African elephants, lions and gorillas were being sheltered out of public view because of the dangerously low temperatures.