Thousands lose power in the brutal cold after a bomb cyclone dumps record-setting snow

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CNN  — 

The nor’easter that dumped record snowfall in parts of the East Coast has left treacherous wind chills and thousands of people without power.

“An East Coast blizzard dropped one to over 2 feet of snow along the coast. Now, cold weather will hold a grip on the Mid-Atlantic today and tonight,” the National Weather Service Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center tweeted Sunday.

Ferocious winds knocked down power lines in Massachusetts, leaving 88,000 outages in the state late Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us.

By Sunday afternoon, the number had dropped to around 16,000 outages, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported.

Regional shelters and warming centers have been set up for those without electricity in the brutal cold, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Sunday.

She said the state’s transportation department has been trying to clear roads to provide access for those in need.

The storm became a “bomb cyclone” Saturday, meaning it strengthened rapidly and had the barometric pressure drop more than 24 millibars within 24 hours, the Weather Prediction Center said.

It also broke snowfall records in parts of Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Much of the Northeast is suffering subzero wind chills

A worker shields himself from blowing snow Saturday in Boston.

About 1 million people across the Northeast were under winter weather alerts Sunday – down from about 16 million people Saturday night.

“That is a huge drop-off as the storm exits the most populous areas of the eastern seaboard,” CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.

But there’s a catch: “Behind the northward moving storm, winds of 10-20 mph, with gusts to 30 mph had led to areas of blowing snow and below-zero wind chill values across much of the Northeast,” the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center said Sunday.

Most of the Northeast is still stuck in a deep freeze.

“Afternoon high temperatures will remain below average across the Northeast on Sunday, with most locations struggling to get above 30 degrees,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.

While temperatures will slowly rise after the nor’easter, “we will have to be patient for any real warm up, which doesn’t come until the middle of the week,” Van Dam said.

Record snow and roaring winds

An aerial view shows snow cover in Central Park Saturday.

The bomb cyclone brought heavy snow that accumulated quickly as howling winds blew through the region.

The town of Stoughton, Massachusetts, recorded a staggering 30.9 inches of snowfall by Saturday night, the NWS said.

In parts of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, where Cape Cod is located, hurricane-strength winds reached 81 mph Saturday, the service said.

Here are some notable snowfall records:

  • Atlantic City, New Jersey: The city crushed its all-time January snowfall record by Saturday, reaching a monthly total of 33.2 inches of snow. The prior monthly record of 20.3 inches was set in January 1987. The city’s 14 inches of snow Saturday also beat its previous record for the calendar date, which was set in 2014 at 7.3 inches.
  • Boston: Logan International Airport tallied at least 23.6 inches of snow by Saturday night, said the NWS, making Saturday the snowiest January day Boston has recorded and tying the record for biggest 1-day snowfall total. The previous record was set on January 27.
  • Central Park, New York: The iconic park saw 7.3 inches on Saturday, beating the previous record for January 29 of 4.7 inches set in 1904.
  • Philadelphia: The city was hit with 5.8 inches of snow Saturday, beating the previous calendar day record of 5 inches set on January 29, 1904.

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About 5,000 flights canceled

Dangerous conditions snarled travel plans, with about 5,000 flights into, out of or within the US canceled this weekend, according to FlightAware.com.

East Coast hubs were the most affected.

Major airlines offered waivers and alternative options to passengers whose travel was affected by the storm.

CNN’s Liam Reilly, Haley Brink, John Keefe, Jason Hanna, Christina Maxouris, Brynn Gingras, Brian Todd, Artemis Moshtaghian, Tyler Mauldin and David Williams contributed to this report.