Winter Storm Jonas: At least eight killed in historic blizzard conditions

More than 85 million people in at least 20 states are in the path of the worsening storm

Alexandra Sims
Saturday 23 January 2016 10:58

A potentially record-setting blizzard has killed at least eight people in the US as it continues to surge across the East Coast, threatening to leave some areas under more than 100cm of snow.

More than 85 million people in at least 20 states are in the path of the worsening storm, which is set to “supercharge” as it travels on towards the Atlantic.

“The fuse was just lit,” said CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers, adding once the storm reaches the Atlantic jet stream, “that’s when the fire cracker will go off.”

New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, said the storm could be one of the worst to ever hit the city and is considering a full travel ban.

In a press conference, he urged residents not to drive and stay at home. The NYC Mayor's Office tweeted: "This is bad and getting worse rapidly."

Six people have been killed in traffic accidents on icy roads in North Carolina, CNN reports.

Treacherous driving conditions have also lead to the death of a man in Virginia; another death has been reported in Kentucky, the Richmond Times reports.

Aerial view of Storm Jonas Nasa
Pedestrians walk on H Street, Washington DC in the snow Getty

Virginia police say they responded to 989 traffic crashes and 793 disabled vehicles on Friday night, and Washington Mayor, Muriel Bowser, told people to “hunker down, shelter in place and stay off the roads”, adding the storm has “life and death implications”.

The Washington and Baltimore metro areas were expected to bear the brunt of the so-called Storm Jonas. Two to three feet of snow are likely, accompanied by winds of 30 to 50 miles per hour, before the storm winds down on Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Steady snow was falling on southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, early on Saturday and the blizzard conditions are forecast to head north toward New York City later today.

The capital has already declared a “snow emergency” and snowfall rates could potentially reach 25cm every six hours on Saturday, according to Chris Geldart of the District of Columbia’s emergency management team.

The storm could potentially be the largest in the capital’s history and will probably rank in the top five in terms of snow accumulation. "We're looking at a significant event," said National Weather Service meteorologist, Frank Pereira.

A thick layer of snow has paralysed road, rail and air travel from North Carolina to New York.

More than 130,000 people are without power across the South East, with 125,000 of these in the Carolinas, according to Duke Energy.

Workers shovels snow on a sidewalk January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC Getty
A pedestrian crosses the street in the Chinatown area of Washington DC Getty

Nearly 9,000 flights have been cancelled and a United Airlines plane slipped off the runway at Chicago’s O'Hare Airport.

The storm developed along the Gulf Coast, dropping snow over Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky on Friday. On the East Coast, warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean collided with cold air to form the massive winter system.

The storm was forecast to move offshore in southern New England early next week. Philadelphia and New York were expected to get up to 35cm of snow before the storm abates.

Low-lying areas of New York and New Jersey might see flooding during high tides on Saturday and Sunday, officials said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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