Tens of millions of Americans are in the path of a winter storm that’s forecast to wallop much of the eastern US with snow, rain and wind over the next couple of days. Winter weather alerts were in place from Texas to Maine for the storm, which is expected to reach bomb cyclone status on Saturday.
“A fast-moving and rapidly strengthening storm will bring intense weather and dramatic weather changes to the eastern half of the nation, with the most extremes in store for the Northeast,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dave Dombek said.
A bomb cyclone, which occurs through the process known as bombogenesis, is basically a winter hurricane. It “occurs when a mid-latitude cyclone rapidly intensifies,” or quickly drops in atmospheric pressure, marking the strengthening of the storm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The predicted low pressure of the storm is akin to the strength of a Category 2 hurricane, CNN said.
In the interior Northeast, snow rates of greater than 1 inch per hour, combined with gusty winds, will produce blowing and drifting snow, the National Weather Service warned.
“This will severely reduce visibility and make for difficult to hazardous driving conditions,” the weather service said.
WHAT IS A BOMB CYCLONE:A winter hurricane, explained.
The greatest snow accumulations are likely across portions of the interior Northeast, where totals in excess of 12 inches are likely. Heavy, wet snowflakes may cause scattered power outages, the weather service added.
Blizzard conditions are even possible from the storm in the Northeast on Saturday, AccuWeather said, due to the heavy snow and howling winds.
Winds will indeed howl during the storm: Wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph are forecast from northern Florida to Atlantic Canada on Saturday. The corridor of strongest winds is expected in North Carolina, along the coast or in the mountains, and in southern New England, where wind gusts could reach 70 to 90 mph, according to AccuWeather.
WHAT IS THUNDERSNOW?:Explaining how a thunderstorm can produce snow
Snow was also expected in the Deep South from the storm: As much as 4 inches of snow is possible in northeastern Mississippi and northern Alabama overnight Friday into Saturday as temperatures plunge and storms cross the region, forecasters said.
Tornadoes possible in the Southeast
In addition to the snow, severe thunderstorms could produce damaging winds and a few tornadoes on Friday and Saturday in the Southeast.
“Thunderstorms capable of damaging wind, isolated hail and a few tornadoes are possible across parts of the Southeast and Carolinas. A few strong storms are possible during the day Friday, but the greatest threat appears to be very late Friday night into Saturday morning,” the Storm Prediction Center said.
Cold air will spread across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic in the wake of he storm system with lows likely to be below freezing along the Gulf Coast and into northern Florida Sunday morning.
These low temperatures in the Southeast could cause freezing and frost concerns, AccuWeather said.
“These frost and freeze concerns extend into central Florida Sunday morning and could cause some issues for the Florida citrus crops. Certainly, anyone who has plants or their own gardens will want to take precautions to protect their plants,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Rob Miller .
With overnight lows predicted just below freezing Friday night and near 20 degrees on Saturday, the city of Birmingham, Alabama, said it was opening a shelter for people to get out of the cold.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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