Massive Winter Storm Grayson Hits Northeast

Winter Storm Grayson

A massive winter storm is burying the East Coast, with heavy snow falling from New Jersey to Maine as road crews in Georgia are cleaning up patches of ice.

The storm’s arrival prompted more than 3,500 flight cancellations and shut schools in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

About 900 of those canceled flights were either arrivals or departures at Newark Liberty International Airport, while more than 500 flights were called off at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport was forced to temporarily close as the snow intensified.

In New Jersey, portions of the Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway were closed near Atlantic City late Thursday morning because of the conditions.

A state of emergency was declared for Cape May, Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth counties by Gov. Chris Christie. All state offices were closed Thursday as well.

The New Jersey State Patrol said it responded to more than 150 crashes on state roads Thursday morning, many of which were caused by the winter storm.

The “bomb cyclone” is an intimidatingly-named and powerful winter storm bludgeoning the East Coast with icy precipitation from Florida up into New England, bringing bitter cold, possible blizzard conditions, and the risk of damaging, hurricane-force winds.

The phrase doesn’t refer to the storm itself, which is actually named Grayson.

Instead, ‘bomb cyclone’ refers to a phenomenon expected to occur as this weather event unfolds. The official term is explosive cyclogenesis, or bombogenesis which—in addition to being my new favorite word—is actually really common.

The ‘bombing’ occurs when a low pressure system’s central pressure falls 24 millibars in 24 hours or less.

Drops in atmospheric pressure allow a storm system to pick up more air and strengthen, but a fall as sharp as 24 millibars in less than a day—while not exactly rare—is considered, in meteorological terms, explosive.

This threshold came into common use after the publication of an article on the subject in 1980.

Winter Storm Grayson’s sheer power was felt Thursday by millions in the Northeast, and as tides rose in the afternoon hours, coastal areas saw flooding in addition to the wintry precipitation.

Storm surge poured into the streets in towns like Scituate, Massachusetts, flooding the roads with partially frozen salt water. In the town of Rockport, The Weather Channel storm tracker Jim Cantore watched as water levels rose quickly Thursday afternoon and threatened to wash away several parked cars that were left behind.

North of Plymouth, fire crews in the town of Duxbury were responding to water rescues in flooded areas, and a house fire was reported, the town’s fire department said in a tweet Thursday afternoon.

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