Potent nor’easter will bring freezing temps, howling winds, up to a foot of snow to East Coast

We’ve been dealing with below-freezing temperatures for over 240 consecutive hours in central Indiana. Some of that frigid air has managed to make it as far south as West Palm Beach and Fort Meyers, Florida where a wind chill advisory is in place.

Chris McGuire tries to stay warm as he waits for a space at the City Rescue Mission on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. Dangerously cold temperatures blamed for several deaths have wreaked havoc across a wide swath of the U.S., freezing a water tower in Iowa, halting ferry service in New York and leading officials to open warming centers even in the Deep South. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

 

If cold air wasn’t bad enough for Florida, the infant stages of what will become a powerful nor’easter has also pushed through the state this morning, bringing the first measurable snowfall to Tallahassee in nearly 3 decades.

As the storm system slides off the east coast of the sunshine state and over the gulf stream, it will strengthen rapidly over the warmer waters. This process is known as bombogenesis, or explosive storm development.

This term bombogenesis or “bomb cyclone” was originally coined by the late MIT professor Fred Sanders in a 1980 scientific paper. The criteria for a storm to undergo bombogenesis is a pressure drop of 24 millibars in a single day, or 1 millibar per hour. A millibar is a measure of barometric pressure. This rapid drop in pressure allows storms to rapidly intensify.

With a rapid pressure drop, winds within this nor’easter will gust to 60 mph or more at times. Combined with heavy coastal snowfall rates, many communities along the east coast will see blizzard conditions for several hours, making travel not only dangerous, but nearly impossible at times as roads crews struggle to keep up with new and drifting snow.

By the time this storm slides away from the east coast, some areas could see up to a foot of fresh powder with higher drifts from high winds.

With this dangerous storm on the way, advisories, watches and warnings now span over 1,500 miles from Florida to Maine.