The powerful winter storm that crashed into the East Coast this week, dropping snow from Florida to Maine, is gone.
What it left behind is cold. So, so much cold.
Temperatures plummeted across the eastern United States on Friday, a wave of frigid climates in the wake of the massive “bomb cyclone” storm that had rapidly intensified as it journeyed along the coastline.
The National Weather Service said this “arctic outbreak will keep temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below average across the northeastern U.S.,” which could lead to record-breaking lows.
According to forecasters, high temperatures through Saturday will struggle to get above the single digits in much of New England. Frigid temperatures will also extend into the southern United States as lows drop to the 20s along the eastern Gulf Coast and even in central Florida, the Weather Service said.
Authorities had been warning about the frigid cold this week, saying even as snow pummeled major population centers that their concerns remained the brutal temperatures set to follow.
“We’re all hardy New Englanders, but it’s pretty important for everybody to pay attention and be prepared,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said Thursday.
The cold was everywhere Friday morning. In Jacksonville, Fla., authorities issued a hard freeze warning. With the wind chill, Atlanta felt like it was 3 degrees as people headed to work there. The Capital Weather Gang said wind chills in the Washington area were near zero and perhaps 10 degrees below zero Friday morning, describing the cold as “air that slaps you in the face and must be respected.”
Across New England, wind chills were expected to remain well below zero, with forecasts saying parts of Massachusetts would see wind chills making it feel like negative 29 degrees Friday. In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, painful wind chills plunged the temperatures below zero, and all three areas were expected under wind chill advisories through Saturday morning.
“We expect tough conditions for days to come particularly in terms of the cold,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Thursday. “This is a very sobering reality. It’s really going to be cold all the way through Sunday.”
Many of these areas were waking up Friday with mounds of snow still on the ground, the results of the storm that had spent the previous two days lashing the Eastern Seaboard.
The storm dropped more than a foot of snow in areas stretching from North Carolina to New Hampshire. The snowfall totals were considerable all along the coastline, with 18 inches reported in parts of Maine and New Jersey; 17 inches in Massachusetts; 16 inches in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island; 15 inches in New Hampshire.
The storm hit millions with a combination of heavy snowfall, gusting winds and coastal flooding. Many routines of daily life were frozen in place as schools shut down, offices closed and roadways were closed because of ice and snow.
More than 5,000 flights were canceled Thursday, most of them at key hubs in the Northeast. For a time, all flights through both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports in New York were suspended.
Another 1,400 flights Friday were also canceled, again most of them through the New York areas and Boston.
Authorities urged people to stay off roads because of the icy conditions. At least three deaths have been attributed to the storm. In North Carolina, which saw a foot of snow in some parts of the state, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Thursday that three men had died, all of them in trucks that overturned. State troopers have responded to more than 1,000 calls since the storm began, more than 700 of them involving car collisions, Cooper said.
“With the freezing temperatures, the black ice will be an ongoing concern through the weekend,” Cooper said at a news briefing. “You can make the job of our first responders and our road crews a lot easier by staying off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary.”
The storm began quietly enough in some places. In Boston, things began with a gentle dusting of snowflakes coming during an already bitterly cold winter.
“This isn’t bad,” said Richie Bianchino, 30, after he parked his car Thursday at a covered mass transit garage. He was wearing a hoodie and no gloves. “We’ve just had a bunch of days near zero. This feels good.”
The calm didn’t last. As the day wore on, the storm began to lash the city, ultimately leaving more than a foot of snow on the ground there — and more in other parts of the area — and knocking out power to more than 24,000 at one point.
The storm also brought powerful wind gusts — topping 40 mph at Boston’s airport and reaching as high as 76 mph on Nantucket — and caused what officials described as a “historic high tide” to flood coastal towns.
Water flowed down the streets in Scituate, Marshfield, Plum Island, Dorchester and other Massachusetts communities, and police and fire personnel carried people out of water-stranded cars and low-lying apartments. The National Weather Service said the tide swelled so high in Boston on Thursday that it broke a record set during the Blizzard of 1978, becoming the highest recorded since 1921.
Before the storm’s impact intensified in Boston, some enjoyed the icy weather. Brian Robinson, who was escorting a group of high school students from West Texas on a class trip to Boston, wanted them to soak up the frigid climate while they were there.
“We want as much snow as we can get and as cold as it can get,” Robinson said. “It’s the experience.”
The students shared the enthusiasm.
“I’ve never seen snow before!” exclaimed Erynne Turner, 18, a student. “We made a snow angel this morning,” said Hannah Glass, also 18.
Doug Struck in Boston contributed to this report, which was first published at 9:06 a.m. and has been updated.