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snowbomb cyclone
Credit: Sarah Fortinsky

Penn has suspended normal University operations on Friday, Jan. 5, due to "extreme temperatures, high winds and possible impact to travel conditions" following what meteorologists have called a "bomb cyclone" snowstorm.

The "cyclone" hit the Northeast on Thursday with hurricane-force gusts and four to six inches of snow in Philadelphia.  

The University sent a UPenn Alert to the community at 9:47 p.m. Thursday to announce the suspension of activity. This is the first suspension of operations due to winter weather since the March 2017 "snarty," when the city of Philadelphia declared a "snow emergency" ahead of a multi-day snowstorm. 

Credit: Rebecca Tan

Now, as Philadelphia enters its longest below-freezing stretch since 2004, meteorologists warn that the next few days will have dangerous subzero windchill, with Philadelphia temperatures reaching a low of three degrees this weekend.

Accuweather has reported a windchill advisory for Philadelphia until noon on Saturday — warning of 45 mph wind gusts as low as negative 15 degrees that can cause frostbite in only 30 minutes.

The city of Philadelphia declared a snow emergency Thursday from 12:01 a.m. to 8 p.m.  — towing cars parked in snow emergency routes, leaving meter time limits unenforced, and closing most Philadelphia public and parochial schools.  

CNN reported that on Thursday, over 13,000 homes across the East Coast were without power and hundreds of schools were canceled for the "bomb cyclone."

That same day 4,300 flights were canceled, 2,000 flights were delayed, and all Greyhound buses running to or from Philadelphia were canceled. Philadelphia's SEPTA system also reported many delays and cancelations.

A bomb cyclone occurs when a storm draws in cold air from the north and blasts out icy temperatures — and reports say that this bomb cyclone has escalated faster than any in recent history.

The University has not responded to immediate request for comment.