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Nor'easter - What Is a Noreaster?

The Types of Winter Weather

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What Is a Nor'easter?

A Nor'easter is a type of storm that forms from a strong low pressure system in the Eastern United States. Cold air from the North, primarily from Canada, will often clash with the warm air masses that form over the ocean and from the Gulf Stream in the coastal areas.

While most people associate Nor'easter storms with winter, these storms can actually form any time of the year. Nor'easter storms are also commonly thought to be storms that move in from the Northeast. Instead, strong Northeast winds within the storm are how the storms are named.

Nor'easter Formation

A Nor'easter storm forms when a low pressure system meets a high pressure system. The storms often move very slowly causing heavy amounts of precipitation. In the winter, the heavy snowfall and blizzard-like conditions cause icy road conditions, power outages, and other winter weather hazards.

Nor'easter Damages

Nor'easter storms are also dangerous in coastal areas due to the potential for large wind-driven waves and beach erosion. Flooding can occur as a result of the heavy precipitation and potentially high storm surge conditions.

Famous Nor'easter Storms

  • The Perfect Storm (The Halloween Nor'easter)
  • Sometimes called the Halloween Nor'easter, the Perfect Storm was made famous in the novel of the same name by Sebastian Junger.

  • The Patriots' Day Nor'easter
  • The Patriots' Day storm was a massive April 2007 storm that caused extensive damage across the Northeast United States. The New England states saw the worst of the storm as excessive precipitation and melting snow caused rivers in the area to flood their banks.

    In Maine, one sewage company actually had about 450,000 gallons of overflow that ran into the Kennebec river. Excessive winds caused wave heights to reach 26 feet in some portions of Maine causing substantial beach erosion. In Portland, high tide occurred during the late morning hours and ended up being the 7th biggest tide on record for at 13.28 feet which was higher than the record heights caused by the Perfect Storm.

  • The Blizzard of 1993
  • The Blizzard of 1993 occurred between March 12th and 14th. Otherwise known as the March Superstorm of 1993, the blizzard was one of the worst storms in modern times. By the time the storm ended, billions of dollars in damages and at least 270 winter storm deaths were attributed to the Blizzard of '93.

    http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/bgm/Newsletter/noreaster_vol3_issue4_winter2005.pdf

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