Winter storm forces closure of United States schools, offices

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Northwestern New Jersey, this isn't your storm.

TODAY: Partly sunny, windy & bitterly cold.

That spells blizzard conditions in the Northeast - as well as thousands of canceled flights, scores of shuttered schools and empty grocery store shelves.

Duke Energy reported about 2,400 customers still without electricity Thursday morning.

Students are expected to return to school in New York City on Friday, although hard driving conditions persist as the cold may interfere with the efforts to clear the roads.

Ahead of that threat, snow plows and salt trucks were dispatched along streets and highways, and schools were closed through much of the region.

In Connecticut, where the storm is expected to hit after midnight, Gov. Dan Malloy urged motorists to stay off the roads if possible. Wind gusts of 70mph are forecast over New England, as the storm approaches off the coast this evening and overnight, combine this with snowfall rates of a couple of inches per hour from New York City to Boston areas.

Authorities said that three homeless people in Texas died from exposure to the cold. Add in the strong winds of 40-70mph, resulting blizzards, whiteouts and power cuts will all combine to make travel hard to impossible while the storm passes through the area. If they must travel, they should do so with a winter travel kit.

Officials feared fast-dropping temperatures after the storm passed would turn snow on roadways to ice. High: teens, wind chill 0-10 below.

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Morrone said gusts of 40 to 50 miles an hour could sweep parts of NY, especially southern Queens.

More than 5,000 flights were cancelled at airports in the major cities of NY and Boston, including a number from Ireland.

While the storm caused disruptions and misery for many, Twitter was packed with videos and images of New Yorkers playing in the snow.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the greatest areas of concern are along the Plymouth County coast stretching from Sandwich to Dennis on Cape Cod.

Before the storm pushed north, cities in the Southeast that rarely see snow turned into winter wonderlands, with snow weighing down palm fronds and freezing water in fountains. There also have been no power outages reported in Perquimans. The winter storm has undergone rapid intensification over the last 24 hours, with pressure falls in the range of 3-6mb / 2 hours in response to strong forcing for ascent in the area of the low in the developmental left exit of a strong mid to upper level jet exiting NE USA and the left exit of another jet streak moving NE along the east coast marking the boundary between frigid continental cold and a tropical moisture plume offshore. Florida State University and Florida A&M University temporarily closed due to the severe weather conditions. Charleston, South Carolina, received 5.3 inches of accumulation, within an inch of its record. It brought high winds and swift, heavy snowfall.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said more than 13,000 tonnes of salt had been scattered across the state, warning of unsafe conditions as evening temperatures were expected to remain below freezing through next week Monday.

There also is a risk of coastal flooding.

In Tallahassee, Florida, Ernst Beliard said he's never seen snow in his 21 years there.

A bomb cyclone can blast the air with icy temperatures as it draws colder air from the north.