North-eastern US braced for snow in storm that could become ‘bomb cyclone’ | US weather

The north-eastern US was braced for disruption on Saturday as the first big wintry storm of the season began dropping what forecasters said could be more than a foot of wet, heavy snow, making travel treacherous and cutting off power to thousands.

Gale warnings were in effect for the US coast north from the Carolinas. CNN reported that the storm could intensify fast enough to become a dramatically named “bomb cyclone”, a phenomenon characterised by a rapid pressure drop and increased precipitation and winds.

In New England, morning rain gave way to snow in the afternoon. Accidents littered the Massachusetts Turnpike, where speed limits were reduced to 40mph.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire utilities reported thousands of customers without power.

Forecasters warned the windy nor’easter could result in near-blizzard conditions and could dump a foot of snow on suburban Boston. In Canada, southern Quebec and New Brunswick also expected a wallop.

Police in Connecticut urged drivers to be careful.

“Troopers are responding to accidents all over the state,” state police tweeted. “We ask motorists, if they can stay home please do. And if you have to go out please drive slow and ditch all distractions.”

Unitil, an electric and gas utility in New England, reported that crews stood ready to respond to power outages.

“The chief hazards with the current forecast include hazardous driving conditions in the early hours, the volume of wet snow forecasted to fall and possible gusty winds in coastal areas,” said spokesman Alec O’Meara.

In some areas, snowfall of 3in per hour was possible, said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Clair in Gray, Maine.

“This is the first big one,” Clair said of the beginning of the winter season. “There has been some snow up in the mountains, but this is the first one across where most people live.”

Localized totals of more than 18in were possible in higher terrain, Clair said. But the more populated areas just inland were expected to get about a foot.

Areas south of New England, including the New York region, expected heavy rain and strong winds.

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