Winter storm threatens East Coast

NEW YORK — A massive “bombogenesis” — an area of rapidly declining low pressure — will wreak havoc on the Northeast this week, threatening hurricane-force winter wind gusts and blinding snow.

The bombogenesis will result in what’s known as a “bomb cyclone.” And the bomb cyclone, expected to strike Thursday, will likely dump 6 to 12 inches of snow in New England and hurl 40-60 mph gusts.

The impending storm led to more than 2,700 preemptive U.S. flight cancellations for Thursday, according to Flightaware.com.

At Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, the temperature will plunge to minus 35 degrees Friday night into Saturday, weather observer Taylor Regan said.

But it’s not just New England suffering winter’s wrath. Freezing rain, sleet and snow are smothering parts of the Southeast on Wednesday. For some in the South, the sight of snow was a first.

Record snowfall left South Carolina’s signature palm plants covered in white stuff. By Wednesday afternoon, some areas had seen 5-6 inches of snow.

More than 13,000 tons of salt have been scattered across the state, Gov. Henry McMaster said.

Steady snowfall blanketed Charleston in snow and ice, transforming a city that rarely sees snow into a winter wonderland.

If Charleston gets 4 inches of snow on Wednesday as predicted, it would be the most in one day since 1989, meteorologist Brandon Miller said.

Amid the Instagram-worthy scenes, McMaster warned of dangerous conditions as evening temperatures were expected to remain below freezing through Monday.

Runways at Charleston International Airport closed and the South Carolina Highway Patrol reported dozens of accidents as snow and sleet fell.

McMaster urged people to stay indoors as much as possible to minimize risk of injury.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency for 28 coastal counties ahead of Wednesday’s storm.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport — typically booming with tourists this time of year — closed “due to severe winter weather conditions,” the airport said.

In Savannah, layers of snow covered live oak trees and Spanish moss.

The bitter conditions extended through the state. In the south-central city of Tifton, Matthew Stuart Reid shot drone footage of the snowfall, set to the music of “Winter Wonderland.”

From Maine to Florida, every East Coast state has at least one weather advisory, winter storm watch, winter storm warning or blizzard warning. That’s 1,500 miles of severe weather alerts.

In Tallahassee, Florida, Ernst Beliard said he’s never seen snow in his 21 years there. Indeed, Tallahassee had not seen measurable snowfall since 1989, meteorologist Michael Guy said.

The unusually frigid conditions sweeping Florida led to the closures of Florida State University and Florida A&M University on Wednesday.

They also forced the temporary closures of Orlando water parks and prompted authorities to open dozens of emergency shelters.

At least 12 people in the U.S. have died this week in cold-related deaths, officials said.

Six deaths were reported in Wisconsin, four in Texas, one in North Dakota and one in Missouri.

The Texas deaths included two homeless people in Houston who were exposed to freezing conditions, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.