Giant Winter Storm Could Create Icy Havoc on the East Coast

Don't fear the bomb cyclone. But beware the polar vortex

In Providence and Newport, at least 40 people were treated for various weather-related conditions, from heart attacks, snowblower or shoveling injuries, frostbite and more, according to The Providence Journal.

The bomb cyclone, which developed overnight, occurs when a low-pressure system has a significant, rapid drop in atmospheric pressure.

Weather experts predict it will become a "bomb cyclone" because the system's pressure is expected to fall very rapidly and create one of the most intense winter storms the USA has seen in decades.

A blizzard warning was issued on Wednesday for Norfolk, Virginia, and parts of coastal ME and MA.

In the storm's wake, the mother lode of numbing cold will crash south - likely the last but most bitter in brutal blasts since Christmas Eve.

The storm began late Wednesday and severe conditions are expected to continue at least through Friday morning.

As the storm travels north, snow will develop along the Mid-Atlantic coast and in the Northeast, with possible blizzard conditions in the New England region.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain was expected mainly along the Atlantic seaboard from Florida to North Carolina.

Polar Vortex

In Charleston, one to three inches of snow and sleet is forecast Wednesday, where the Weather Service warns to "plan on hard travel conditions".

Plunging temperatures in Texas brought rare snow flurries as far south as Austin, and accidents racked up on icy roads across the state.

As hellish as the storm may seem to the poor souls on the East Coast, it's not unprecedented. Now forecast models show the central pressure dropping 50 millibars over the next 24 hours. This year, we've had a giant ridge of high pressure sitting over the West Coast, which has brought warm air up all the way to Alaska and is in part to blame for the massive wildfires that have plagued California.

If you look at the two pictures above, one shows the center of the storm at 992 millibars at 1 AM Thursday, and the other shows the same storm at 1 AM Friday with a central pressure of 968 millibars. Wind chills on Friday could dip as low as -35, leaving those without power in a desperate situation. Winds will be considerably stronger over the ocean - exceeding hurricane force - where enormous waves will form.

And those pressure changes can create violent winds and weather.

The National Weather Service warns that heavy snow and frigid temperatures will make travel hard, and added that there are likely to be power outages throughout Boston, Eastern Massachusetts, and Rhode Island on Thursday. B y Friday night, the low forecast for NY is 3 degrees with wind gusts of up to 34 miles per hour, according to the NWS.

Facing the brunt of the storm, Gov. Charlie Baker of MA warned of possible lengthy and widespread power outages as winds make it nearly impossible for crews to work.

The storm caused school and business closings, airline and rail service cancellations or reductions and thousands of utilities outages, many of them restored quickly. Wicked cold air sourced from Siberia, the North Pole and Greenland will all converge on the region.