Winter Storm Grayson Pictures: Bomb Cyclone Brings Blizzards, Heavy Snow and High Winds

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Water flows over the Niagara Falls in New York in this still image taken from a video on January 3. Reuters

The so-called bomb cyclone that is battering the U.S. is intensifying through a process known as "bombogenesis" as it makes its way from Florida up to Maine.

On Wednesday, the southern U.S. more closely resembled the South Pole, as extreme snowfall, freezing rain and sleet rained down on the northern parts of Florida. In some cases it was the first time in three decades that areas of the country had seen snow. 

The storm is now moving further up the east coast and will likely drop more than a foot of snow on New England before the end of the day.

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The governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency, warning residents to expect icy roads and freezing temperatures. In the northeast, work crews loaded trucks with road salt in advance of the storm.

The New York City Department of Education said it would close public schools Thursday because of severe weather. The National Weather Service predicted New York could see five to eight inches of snow and wind gusts as high as 50 miles per hour on Thursday.

The National Weather Service had blizzard warnings in effect from Virginia to Maine, with areas around Boston expected to see about a foot of snow on Thursday.

Much of the eastern United States is in the grips of a sustained cold spell that has frozen parts of Niagara Falls on the American and Canadian sides and played havoc with public works, causing pipes to freeze and water mains to burst.

The cold has been blamed for at least nine deaths over the past few days, including two homeless people in Houston. Police in Roseville, Michigan, said on Wednesday that a 96-year-old woman, recently diagnosed with dementia, was found dead in a playground, apparently having frozen to death after wandering outside in a robe and slippers.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ordered schools closed on Thursday, warning city residents that the peak of the storm would occur during the day, making travel extremely dangerous.

Bomb_Gall Firefighters rescue three people after a car was stuck in icy water in Boyds, Maryland, in this January 1 image by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service obtained from social media. Reuters

1 De-icing road salt is piled up in preparation for winter snowstorms at Eastern Salt Company in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on January 3. Reuters

2 The Jefferson Memorial is reflected in ice during record cold in Washington, D.C., on January 3. Getty

3 Ahead of an incoming winter snowstorm, a Jet Blue flight waits to take off from Logan International Airport next to the frozen waters of the Atlantic Ocean harbor between Winthrop and Boston, Massachusetts, on January 3. Reuters

4 Pedestrians stop to look at the frozen Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in New York City on January 3. Reuters

5 Pedestrians stop to photograph the frozen Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in New York City on January 3. Reuters

6 Crews load de-icing road salt onto trucks in preparation for a winter storm at Eastern Salt Company in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on January 3. Reuters

8 A commuter sips coffee as he walks through record-setting cold on his way to work in Washington on January 3. Reuters

9 Ahead of an incoming winter snowstorm, a sailboat sits in the frozen waters of the Atlantic Ocean harbor between Winthrop and Boston, Massachusetts, on January 3. Reuters

11 A pedestrian crosses a street on a frigid morning as the sun rises in New York on January 3. Reuters

12 Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay helps break free tug Stephanie Dann from the ice on the Hudson River near Kingston, New York, on January 2. Reuters

15 A man crosses the street on a cold winter morning in Boston on January 2. Reuters