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Nor'easter becomes bomb cyclone: Fierce winds, flooding, snow and coastal havoc ensue

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 02, 2018, 9:21:58 PM EST

  • High winds to cause widespread power outages, travel disruptions and property damage.
  • Flooding rainfall in store for some locations, and coastal flooding will occur.
  • Rain to end as snow in many areas, with risk of a foot or more of heavy, wet snow in a narrow zone.

A bomb cyclone off the New Jersey coast will continue to bring damaging winds, flooding rain and heavy wet snow as coastal flooding ramps up to end this week.

The storm brought flooding, heavy snow to part of the Midwest and gusty thunderstorms to the Southeast states into Thursday night.

Static AP Delta photo

Delta airplanes are grounded, Friday, March 2, 2018, in New York City. Airlines have cancelled many flights out of New York as a severe nor'easter arrived in the northeast. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The full power of the storm and the worst impacts will be felt in the Northeast through Friday night.

The pressure in the center of the storm has plummeted so fast that has become another bomb cyclone for the winter of 2018. The pressure fell from 29.87 inches to 29.05 inches in 24 hours at Montauk, Long Island, New York.

For this winter, this storm may be second only in intensity to the storm from early January in the same region. As the barometric pressure continues to plummet, the areal coverage of high winds will increase.

In terms of coastal flooding, impact may be more substantial from this storm, compared to the early January storm, in that this storm is moving much more slowly.

Major trouble anticipated from high winds

The most far-reaching effect of the storm will be high winds. Gusts of 50-70 mph will be common from the central and southern Appalachians to the lower Great Lakes and part of northern New England. However, gusts approaching hurricane force are likely along the coast from Delmarva to eastern Massachusetts. The strongest winds are likely to be along the coast of eastern Massachusetts and may reach hurricane force (74 mph).

Static Wind Gusts 11 am

Extensive power outages are likely into Saturday. Have a working flashlight on hand, and keep cell phones charged.

Winds as strong as predicted can knock down trees, cause damage property and make loose objects into projectiles. Walking, standing or driving through areas where there is a canopy of trees may be very dangerous during the storm.

More airline delays and flight cancellations are likely due to the wind alone from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. Wind-related delays are possible as far south as Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta.

Airlines were waiving change fees, according to the USA Today.

Coastal inundation may behave like a tropical storm or hurricane

Depending on the wind direction, ocean and/or bay waters will be pushed inland, and substantial coastal flooding and beach erosion are anticipated. As the storm moves along and the wind shifts, areas that were not flooded initially may take on water.

Static Coastal Impacts 8 am

Tides are likely to run 2-4 feet above normal. Tides may be as much as 5 feet above normal at peak, where the shape of the coast acts as a funnel and prevents water from escaping. This storm will cause coastal flooding for several high tide cycles into this weekend.

The worse conditions are likely in eastern Massachusetts, where officials have already asked coastal residents to evacuate, according to Mass Live.

On Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that he was activating the state's National Guard to assist residents who may be impacted by the storm.

Offshore waves of 30 feet are forecast. All vessels are encouraged to remain in port. Large vessels should remain at sea until the storm moves away later this weekend.

Static Coastal Flooding CloseUp

However, areas father south and north may also experience coastal flooding.

From central New Jersey to North Carolina, the greatest concern for flooding will be from the back bays on the western sides of the barrier islands or peninsulas.

Overwash is likely to continue along the southern shorelines of lakes Erie and Ontario into Friday evening.

Storm to produce flooding rainfall in some communities

Rain during the storm may be intense enough to lead to urban and small stream flooding in southeastern New England. Storm total rainfall in part of this area is likely to range between 2 and 5 inches from the storm.

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Heavy wet snow to pile up in a hurry

A change to heavy, wet snow is in store for many areas as the storm progresses. Some motorists may get stranded on the highways in this storm.

The changeover to snow will progress to the upper mid-Atlantic coast during the Friday evening rush hour and then to part of southeastern New England Friday night.

Static Snowfall Map 3 pm

Up to 2 feet of snow is likely to fall on parts of eastern New York state and the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania.

There is still the potential for a few inches of snow on non-paved surfaces around New York City, most of which will fall during the early evening hours.

Philadelphia experienced a change to heavy wet snow Friday afternoon and will likely end up with a few inches on non-paved surfaces.

A matter of a couple of degrees Fahrenheit may make a difference. Motorists from Philadelphia to New York City should be prepared for changing road conditions which will trend from wet to slushy to perhaps snow-covered as the daylight diminishes. Bridges and overpasses will be the first to become slippery.

How quickly cold air is drawn into the storm near the end will determine how far south snow falls in the mid-Atlantic and east in New England.

In lieu of high winds, the snow will be heavy and wet enough to weigh down trees and power lines. The weight of the snow, whether it be a few inches to 24 inches will be difficult to shovel and plow.

Strong winds will continue through Saturday in some communities long after precipitation comes to an end.

Blustery and cold conditions are likely to linger along much of the Atlantic Seaboard into Sunday. Rough seas and coastal flooding and beach erosion may continue in some areas into Sunday.

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