USA forecasters called the ongoing winter storm a "bomb cyclone" for its rapid and rare drop in atmospheric pressure.
The Great Lakes also suffered one as far back as 1913 which sank 12 ships and killed at least 250 people.
The severe weather has led the Foreign Office to update its advice to United Kingdom travellers in, or heading to, the region.
This storm has dumped freak snow on the Southeast, and all the way up the coast to ME, and delivered some blistering winds.
Forecasters say New York City may see up to a foot of snow with similar or higher levels forecast for the whole of New England.
Almost 500 members of the National Guard were activated to assist with the emergency response along the East Coast, including 200 in NY state, authorities said.
Fortunately, the bomb cyclone is expected to peak by this afternoon, according to Oravec, and it's moving pretty quickly, so the snow should subside by Friday at the latest.
They include the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes parts of Delaware, Virginia and Maryland; coastal New Jersey; eastern Long Island, New York; and coastal eastern New England.
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"These are tough conditions to move around in, so if you don't need to be on the road. you shouldn't", said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter.
So far, a state of emergency has been declared for the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida.
Late on Wednesday night, a baggage vehicle and two sleeper cars on an Amtrak train travelling from Miami to NY, with 311 passengers onboard, derailed as it was slowly backing into a station in Savannah, Georgia.
Storm intensity is measured by central pressure - the lower the pressure, the stronger.
This morning's #GOESEast view of the powerful #BombCyclone as it batters the East Coast with heavy snow and strong winds.
"In this case, with a nor'easter, the cold air from Canada combined with the warmer ocean waters of the Gulf Stream is what will trigger this explosive strengthening pattern", Dean said.
The effects of it resemble a hurricane due to the high winds it creates, only there will be much colder temperatures.
This storm has been dubbed a "bombcyclone" or "bombogenesis" by meteorologists as it is expected to rapidly intensify. Wind chills will be brutal this weekend, with some areas in the Northeast feeling like it is 40 below zero.
Bomb cyclones occur when dry air in the stratosphere, the second-closest atmospheric layer to the Earth's surface, flows to an area of low pressure to try and equalise the differences in pressure.
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