Florida sees first snow in 30 years

floridaaFlorida’s capital has had its first snow in three decades as a freak winter storm hits the southeast states of the United States.

A rare winter storm has hit the US southeast, bringing Florida’s capital its first snow in three decades and snarling travel, while New England braced for a “bombogenesis” whopper forecast.

Governors in states from Florida to Virginia warned residents to expect icy roads and unseasonable freezing temperatures. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in part of the state, while Florida Governor Rick Scott ordered warming shelters opened for residents.

In historic Charleston, South Carolina, the winter storm shuttered carriage horse tour companies on Wednesday, city spokesman Jack O’Toole said.

The wintry mix and low wind chills could cause widespread power outages and leave roads icy, making commuting treacherous for millions of Americans from northern Florida to southern Virginia, the National Weather Service said in a series of warnings.

Some schools and universities in those states were closed on Wednesday in anticipation of the storm.

The weather service said its Tallahassee office measured a snow and sleet accumulation of 2.5mm on its roof early in the day, the first time Florida’s capital has had snow in nearly 30 years.

The weather service had blizzard warnings in effect from Virginia to Maine, with areas around Boston expected to see about 30 cm of snow on Thursday.

Forecasters warned that snow would fall quickly, at a rate of several inches per hour, during the day, with the storm intensified by the “bombogenesis” effect, according to private forecaster Accuweather.

That effect, also known as a “bomb cyclone,” was first described in a 1980 scientific paper by the late Fred Sanders, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It occurs when a storm’s barometric pressure drops by 24 millibars in 24 hours, greatly strengthening the storm.

An Arctic air mass will remain entrenched over the eastern two-thirds of the United States through the end of the week, forecasters said. The record-low temperatures were to blame for at least eight deaths in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Dakota and Michigan over the past several days, officials said.