What is a Nor’easter and how does it form?


A powerful storm has issued winter weather advisories and storm warnings up the entire East Coast. 

“You might be seeing some pictures and videos of snow coming from Florida or Georgia,” Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini said.” Winter Storm Warnings blanket the East Coast all the way to the northeast where Blizzard Warnings have been issued for Maine and Massachusetts.” 

This powerful type of winter storm is known as a Nor'easter, Zontini said. 

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“A Nor'easter gets its name because the winds in the coastal part of the storm are typically moving from the northeast. These types of storms usually develop between September and April and can develop between Georgia and New Jersey,” Zontini said.

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“The area of low pressure hugs the coast staying around 100 miles east or west of the east coastline. A Nor'easter will typically move northeast, continuing to strengthen, peaking near New England or eastern Canada,” according to Zontini.

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“Storms like this can go through what is called ‘bombogensis’ which is when a low pressure system rapidly intensifies, dropping 24 millibars or more in 24 hours.” 

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A Nor'easter usually produces heavy rain or snow and are also know for very strong wind gusts and dangerous surf. The big cities that can fall in the path of a Nor'easter include Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, Zontini said.  

“During the winter, these storms develop off the east coast because it is when the polar jet can dip south bringing very cold air to southern states,” Zontini said. 

“The warm Gulf stream waters hug the east coast and warm the air over the coastline. The cold land air spills then can move towards the relatively warmer air over the ocean and feed or enhance the development of theses low pressure systems.”

Some past Nor'Easters include the New England Blizzard of February 1978 and the March "Superstorm" of 1993. 


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