What is a nor’easter?

2018-03-17 10:15:50.000 – Jillian Reynolds, Summit Intern


You may have heard the term ‘nor’easter’ used in the news or from our forecasts during the past couple months. You might think “We get storms all the time. But what exactly would define a storm as being a nor’easter?” That is what I will be talking about in this blog post.

The Weather Channel defines a nor’easter as a “strong area of low pressure along the East Coast of the United States that typically features winds from the northeast off the Atlantic Ocean”. They are a result of air temperatures over land being much colder than air temperatures over the ocean during the winter and early spring months. The difference in temperature between the warm air over the water and cold air over land provides the instability and energy needed to develop and fuel nor’easters. 

A typical setup for a nor’easter (Weather.com).
The polar jet stream transports cold air southward out of Canada into the U.S., then eastward toward the Atlantic Ocean where warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic tries to move northward. This is why the U.S. East Coast is an ideal spot for nor’easters. The areas located closer to the coast (such as Boston, New York City, etc.) will be more vulnerable to this type of storm.

A nor’easter can bring heavy rain or snow, strong winds, and coastal flooding to the affected locations. Keep an eye on the weather in order to be sure when to take the proper steps to prepare. This includes stocking up on extra food and water, just in case you were to lose power for a couple days due to trees and power lines being knocked down by strong winds. It will also include staying off of the flooded/snow-covered roads until flooding subsides or they are plowed.


Jillian Reynolds, Summit Intern

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