WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- An intense "bomb cyclone" is battering the U.S. eastern seaboard on Thursday with high winds and heavy snowfalls, leaving thousands of flights cancelled, numerous schools and offices closed, and millions of Americans bracing for potential power shortages.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Thursday three people have died in the snow storm.
"The storm will produce heavy snow along the Mid-Atlantic Coast into Southern New England by Thursday morning that will move northward into the Northeast by Thursday afternoon, while ending over the Mid-Atlantic Coast by Thursday evening," the U.S. National Weather Service wrote in an earlier alert.
U.S. forecasters called the ongoing winter storm a "bomb cyclone" for its rapid and rare drop in atmospheric pressure. The storm is crawling up the northeastern American Thursday morning with a threat of winds gusting as high as 60 mph and a bone-chilling blast of Arctic air.
Through Thursday, parts of New York could see five to nine inches, Philadelphia three to six inches and Washington one to two inches. In New England, Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could get eight to 12 inches, while Portland, Maine, could see 10 to 15 inches, the U.S. National Weather Service said.
The service also said Atlantic City could record up to 18 inches of snow, Delaware beach towns were facing the prospect of a foot of snow and travel has become "very dangerous to impossible" in the highly populated Hampton Roads region of Virginia, which could receive up to 12 inches of snow in places.
More than 3,000 flights were cancelled on Thursday, with airports in New York, Newark, New Jersey; Boston reporting the most cancellations, according to FlightAware, an aviation tracking website.