11 die of cold, US braces for winter ‘bomb cyclone’

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Washington, Jan 3 : At least 11 people died of cold in the United States as a prolonged stretch of strikingly bitter cold enveloped much of the country and buried some places under a record amount of snow even as a powerful winter storm was forecast to hit the eastern US.

The bombogenesis — an area of low pressure that drops significantly in 24 hours — will result in what’s known as a “bomb cyclone”. And the bomb cyclone, expected to strike on Thursday, will likely dump 6 to 12 inches of snow in New England, which will be driven by 64 to 96 kmph wind gusts, CNN reported.

Months after a busy hurricane season, the storm was expected to bring frigid wind, freezing rain and even snow to the South, said the National Weather Service (NWS).

It warned of hazardous travel conditions, including limited visibility and icy roads. Forecasters expect the storm to eventually hit the Northeast, all the way up to Maine, a New York Times report said.

Freezing rain, sleet and snow were expected to smother parts of the Southeast on Wednesday.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency on Tuesday for 28 coastal counties ahead of the storm.

A 27-year-old woman was found dead on the shore of Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. Authorities said Lindsey Klima stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and could have fallen at the shoreline before she succumbed to the cold, CNN affiliate WLUK reported.

Klima’s death was among five weather-related deaths in Wisconsin. Two other people died in North Dakota and Missouri.

Four others died in Texas, including two homeless people after being exposed to freezing conditions.

Authorities urged people to stay home as millions in the eastern half of the US face below and near-freezing temperatures.

Many schools cancelled classes and government offices closed across the Florida Panhandle and along the entire east coast shoreline.

The frigid temperatures led to temporary closures at water parks in Florida and prompted authorities to open dozens of emergency shelters.

The weather turned fountains into ice sculptures and froze the top of an above-ground pool. Florida Department of Agriculture spokesman Aaron Keller said the cold weather could be endangering crops such as citrus, peppers and strawberries.

The US was not alone in its winter misery. Hurricane-force winds of Storm Eleanor battered the western shores of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The UK’s weather service, the Met Office, said the storm was expected to bring gusts of up to 90 mph to parts of Britain.