Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Bomb Cyclone Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Along East Coast

EDM Friday Briefing: Bomb Cyclone Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Along East Coast

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 5, 2018: A massive winter storm wreaked havoc along the East Coast late Wednesday and into Thursday; historic coastal flooding occurred in New England as a result of the bomb cyclone; an early Thursday morning earthquake impacted the Bay Area in California; a young girl was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Florida; Canada cites romaine lettuce as the food responsible for an E. coli outbreak; Tropical Cyclone Ava made landfall in Madagascar on Friday; Puerto Rico formed a task force to review deaths related to Hurricane Maria; and a Singapore Airlines A380 jet was forced to land at a small New York airport amid the intense winter storm.

1. The East Coast was slammed with heavy snow, ice, coastal flooding, and hurricane-force winds, with gusts up to 70 mph, from late Wednesday and into Thursday, due to a bomb cyclone that developed just off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm prompted blizzard warnings in many states, resulting in over 4,000 flight cancellations, and is being blamed for the deaths of at least six people. Snowfall amounts ranged anywhere from just a trace in Tallahassee to more than a foot of snow in parts of New Jersey, New York, and other areas in New England.  

2. The bomb cyclone, classified as such a storm due to a large and rapid drop in barometric pressure, hit the Boston area during its high tide peak, pushing seawater into coastal towns and creating massive flooding. More than 20 people trapped in their vehicles in ice-filled floodwaters had to be rescued in Quincy, Massachusetts, while the storm knocked out power to many residents, including about 24,000 people in the Boston area. Many schools were closed throughout the impacted area, including those in New York, parts of New Jersey and Boston. Officials said schools remained closed on Friday.

3. An early Thursday morning earthquake struck near Berkeley, California and registered a 4.4 magnitude. The quake was just 8 miles deep and shook the area for five to 10 seconds. According to reports, the earthquake was felt by nearly 9.8 million people. The earthquake struck along the Hayward fault, one of seven major fault zones in the Bay Area, but one that is considered to be a tectonic time bomb according to U.S. Geological Survey Scientists. The fault runs from San Pablo Bay to Fremont and passes through Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, and Fremont -- areas which are heavily populated.  

4. In Polk County, Florida, an 11-year-old girl was struck and killed by an Amtrak train while walking home from the supermarket. The young girl, Yazmin White, had walked through a wooded area and was attempting to cross the tracks when the train struck her. The train conductor indicated that he blew the horn while braking the train. However, investigators say that Yazmin did not give any indication that she saw the approaching train, likely because she had headphones on and was looking down at her phone while crossing the tracks.

5. People in the United States and Canada are being urged to avoid eating romaine lettuce because of its potential link to a recent outbreak of E. coli. The outbreak has already sickened a combined 58 people from both countries and at least one person has died. Canada's Public Health Agency has identified romaine lettuce as its source of the illness outbreak, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that it has not yet identified the common food related to the E. coli outbreak in the United States.

6. Tropical Cyclone Ava is churning away in the Indian Ocean and is set to impact Madagascar throughout the weekend. Ava officially made landfall near Toamasina, as a the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on Friday afternoon, with wind gusts of 85 mph just prior to landfall. Officials are citing a high risk of major flooding and mudslides, due to torrential rainfall amounts -- up to 24 inches -- and the storm's slow movement along the island.

7. On Thursday, the governor of Puerto Rico announced the formation of a task force to examine the number of deaths related to Hurricane Maria. The official total currently stands at 64. The task force will review deaths that occurred across the island following Hurricane Maria to determine if the causes of death were related to the storm. Findings from the task force are due in 90 days, including any revised numbers.

8. A Singapore Airlines A380 -- the world's largest commercial passenger jet -- was forced to land at a smaller airport in New York, due to the winter storm impacting the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. The flight, SQ26 from Frankfurt to New York, had to divert to Stewart International Airport, which is about 80 miles north of the city. The smaller airport terminal is not equipped to accommodate such large aircraft. Passengers departing the plane had to use air stairs and walk in the frigid weather to the airport terminal.

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Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.