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"Bomb Cyclone" batters eastern U.S., causing travel chaos, deaths
Last Updated: 2018-01-05 07:19 | Xinhua
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A woman runs by the frozen Potomac River in Washington D.C., theUnited States, on Jan. 4, 2018. At least 11 people in the United States have died in link with severe cold since Tuesday morning, officials said Wednesday. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

An intense "bomb cyclone" is battering the U.S. East Coast on Thursday with high winds and heavy snowfalls, leaving thousands of flights cancelled, numerous schools and offices closed, and millions of Americans bracing for potential power shortages.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Thursday three people have died in the snow storm.

"The storm will produce heavy snow along the Mid-Atlantic Coast into Southern New England by Thursday morning that will move northward into the Northeast by Thursday afternoon, while ending over the Mid-Atlantic Coast by Thursday evening," the U.S. National Weather Service wrote in an earlier alert.

U.S. forecasters called the ongoing winter storm a "bomb cyclone" for its rapid and rare drop in atmospheric pressure. The storm is crawling up the northeastern American Thursday morning with a threat of winds gusting as high as 60 mph and a bone-chilling blast of Arctic air.

Through Thursday, parts of New York could see five to nine inches of snow, Philadelphia three to six inches and Washington one to two inches. In New England, Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get eight to 12 inches, while Portland, Maine, could see 10 to 15 inches, the U.S. National Weather Service said.

The service also said Atlantic City could record up to 18 inches of snow, Delaware beach towns were facing the prospect of a foot of snow and travel has become "very dangerous to impossible" in the highly populated Hampton Roads region of Virginia, which could receive up to 12 inches of snow in places.

More than 3,000 flights were cancelled on Thursday, with airports in New York and New Jersey; Boston reporting the most cancellations, according to FlightAware, an aviation tracking website.

The agency that runs New York City-area airports says all flights have been suspended temporarily at JFK and LaGuardia airports due to wind and whiteout conditions.

At Newark Liberty airport in New Jersey, airlines had cancelled 867 flights as of noon Thursday, 73 percent of normal flight activity.

The winter storm that is slamming U.S. East Coast also led to more than 200 flight cancellation in the widwestern city of Chicago.

According to Chicago Department of Aviation, by 9:30 a.m. local time, Chicago O'Hare International Airport had cancelled more than 180 flights and the Midway Airport, more than 50 flights.

In Washington D.C., the federal government delayed opening offices on Thursday as blowing snow swirled in the capital. The Office of Personnel Management informed that nonemergency federal workers could report two hours late, work remotely, or take an unscheduled leave.

Power firms have warned of possible fuel shortages to come since heating units in homes and commercial buildings running furiously to fend off the deep freeze.

In the state of Virginia, thousands of customers were without power on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, more than 12,400 Georgia Power customers, 10,200 Florida Power & Light customers and 2,700 South Carolina Electric & Gas customers have been affected since Wednesday night, local media reported.

Many governors or local leaders have declared emergencies, and blizzard warnings were in effect in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Virginia. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for all of downstate New York.

The advancing storm first landed in the southern United States on Wednesday. Three cars on an Amtrak train carrying more than 300 passengers from Miami to New York derailed Wednesday night in snow-covered Savannah, Georgia. No injuries were reported.

The "bomb cyclone" storm is expected to continue to affect eastern North America into the weekend.

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