US East Coast hunkers down as ‘bombogenesis’ snowstorm hits

US East Coast hunkers down as 'bombogenesis' snowstorm hits

The US East Coast is hunkering down as a major blizzard hits the region for the first time in four years.

The storm is forecast to stretch from the Carolinas to Maine, packing hurricane-force winds in coastal parts. Five states have declared emergencies.

Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston, a city that is no stranger to snowfall, said the storm could be “historic”.

More than two feet of snow could fall in New England. Weather officials also warn of flooding near the coast.

Over 5,000 US flights were cancelled between Friday and Sunday, according to FlightAware.

Forecasters say there is a chance the storm, known as a Nor’easter, will blanket the Boston area with up to 2ft (61cm) of snow.

The current record of 27.6in (70cm) within 24 hours was set in 2003.

Experts say the storm will undergo bombogenesis, meaning that colder air is expected to mix with warmer sea air, leading to a swift drop in atmospheric pressure. The process leads to a so-called bomb cyclone.

“Travel should be restricted to emergencies only,” warned the National Weather Service (NWS) in Boston.

“If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.”

The powerful storm began to hit the country’s coast in the early hours of Saturday morning, with snowfall already reported in several states.