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Nor'easter explodes into "bomb cyclone" -- and it's not over yet

Nor'easter explodes into "bomb cyclone"
Massive nor'easter turns deadly, affects more than 50M people 03:35

WINTHROP, Mass. -- A late-winter nor'easter exploded Friday into what weather watchers call a "bomb cyclone," and it's not over yet. At least four people have been killed by falling trees -- including two boys, 6 and 11 years old. The massive storm is affecting more than 50 million people from the Mid-Atlantic to New England.

Coastal communities are getting swamped by hours of heavy rain, and a surge of seawater. Exceptionally high tides Friday night could bring more floods.

Inland areas, especially towns in higher elevations, are getting pounded with more than a foot of heavy snow -- the kind that snaps tree limbs and power lines.

The most widespread threat is the wind. Gusts have topped 80 mph -- hurricane force. More than two million homes and businesses have lost power. Thousands of flights have been canceled.

By mid-day Friday, the Atlantic Ocean was easily jumping over Winthrop's sea wall. Fourteen feet of flood waters rushed through beachfront homes, turned neighborhoods into lakes, and cars into moored boats. Emergency crews had to use construction vehicles to rescue the stranded.

Over 3,000 flights canceled as nor'easter pummels East Coast 01:09

CBS News found the Kresses looking to escape the four feet of rising water in their basement. They'd just finished fixing the house after it flooding during January's record bomb cyclone storm.

"Why did you want to get out?" CBS News asked. 

"Because the tide is going to be higher," Denise Kress said.

They loaded into the back of a National Guard truck along with their 17-year-old cat, Sweetheart.

Boston didn't fare any better. Waterfront condos quickly became water filled along the harbor. And Boston's long wharf, normally tourist central, became part of the harbor as the tide was quickly rising. It was the third-highest tide ever in Boston -- more than 14.5 feet. It's expected to get even higher.

The near-hurricane force winds did damage, too. Up and down the Northeast coast, trees crushed sides of houses, power line polls were bent sideways, and  millions of customers lost power.

CBS News surveyed the damage in Winthrop with fire chief Paul Flanagan.

"Should people leave instead of stay, should they just go?" CBS News asked. 

"We are recommending that they go. A lot of them have ridden out storms before but tonight is going to be a true test," Flanagan said.

"It all came together," Flanagan said, like a "perfect storm. It's the second one we've had in a month."

It's punishing to be outside in Winthrop during the storm, but the worst is yet to come with high-tide set to come before midnight. The high-tide is a concern because of three factors: the full-moon, the high-tide and hours of strong winds whipping up water and sending it into homes with a lot of force.

The nor'easter has simply grounded public transportation up and down the eastern seaboard to a virtual halt.

At New York's JFK International Airport, nearly 500 flights have been canceled and that number continues to rise, CBS News correspondent DeMarco Morgan reports. All three of New York's major airports, along with Boston's Logan International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport, have been experiencing heavy delays all day Friday.

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