Street crews in the U.S. Northeast raced through the night into Friday to clear snow-clogged streets after a powerful blizzard and restore power to homes ahead of a brutal cold spell that has killed more than a dozen people.
From Baltimore to Caribou, Maine, efforts were under way to clear roadways of ice and snow as wind chill temperatures were to plunge during the day, reaching -40 F (-40 C) in some parts after sundown, according to the National Weather Service.
The wintry weather has been blamed for at least 17 deaths in the past few days, including three in North Carolina traffic accidents and three in Texas because of the cold.
The brutal cold was forecast to reach from New England across to the Midwest and down to the Carolinas, forecasters warned, adding that low-temperature records could be broken across the broad region in the coming days.
Utility companies across the East worked to repair downed power lines early on Friday as about 21,000 customers remained without electricity, down from almost 80,000 the day before, and issued warnings that temperatures may become dangerously low.
The storm, packing winds gusts of more than 70 miles per hour (113 kph), dumped a foot or more of snow throughout the region, including Boston and parts New Jersey and Maine, where heavy snow continued to fall early on Friday.
Many East Coast communities ordered drivers to stay off the roads and closed schools on Friday. Schools in Boston and Baltimore canceled classes while Newark, New Jersey schools were opening two hours later than usual on Friday.
The storm was powered by a rapid plunge in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters called a bombogenesis, or a “bomb cyclone.” It brought high winds and swift, heavy snowfall.
Nearly 500 members of the National Guard were activated along the East Coast to assist with emergency response, including 200 in New York state, the US department of defense said in a statement.
Officials reported traffic accidents throughout the Northeast and the storm’s reach extended to eastern Canada.