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Early January 2018 Nor'easter 2018-01-04 1345Z.jpg
Satellite image of the intense nor'easter responsible for the January 2018 North American blizzard. Note the hurricane-like eye at the center.
NASA satellite image of White Juan, an intense nor'easter which struck Atlantic Canada in February 2004.

A nor'easter (also northeaster; see below) is a macro-scale extratropical cyclone in the western North Atlantic ocean. The name derives from the direction of the strongest winds that will be hitting an eastern seaboard of the northern hemisphere: as a cyclonic air mass rotates counterclockwise, winds tend to blow northeast-to-southwest over the region covered by the northwest quadrant of the cyclone. Use of the term in North America is associated with storms that impact the north Atlantic areas of the United States, and in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada.

Extratropical cyclone type of cyclone

Extratropical cyclones, sometimes called mid-latitude cyclones or wave cyclones, are low-pressure areas which, along with the anticyclones of high-pressure areas, drive the weather over much of the Earth. Extratropical cyclones are capable of producing anything from cloudiness and mild showers to heavy gales, thunderstorms, blizzards, and tornadoes. These types of cyclones are defined as large scale (synoptic) low pressure weather systems that occur in the middle latitudes of the Earth. In contrast with tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones produce rapid changes in temperature and dew point along broad lines, called weather fronts, about the center of the cyclone.

Cyclone large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low pressure

In meteorology, a cyclone is a large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclones are characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are polar vortices and extratropical cyclones of the largest scale. Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones also lie within the synoptic scale. Mesocyclones, tornadoes and dust devils lie within smaller mesoscale. Upper level cyclones can exist without the presence of a surface low, and can pinch off from the base of the tropical upper tropospheric trough during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones have also been seen on extraterrestrial planets, such as Mars and Neptune. Cyclogenesis is the process of cyclone formation and intensification. Extratropical cyclones begin as waves in large regions of enhanced mid-latitude temperature contrasts called baroclinic zones. These zones contract and form weather fronts as the cyclonic circulation closes and intensifies. Later in their life cycle, extratropical cyclones occlude as cold air masses undercut the warmer air and become cold core systems. A cyclone's track is guided over the course of its 2 to 6 day life cycle by the steering flow of the subtropical jet stream.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.


Typically, such storms originate as a low-pressure area that forms within 100 miles (160 km) of the shore between North Carolina and Massachusetts. The precipitation pattern is similar to that of other extratropical storms. Nor'easters are usually accompanied by very heavy rain or snow, and can cause severe coastal flooding, coastal erosion, hurricane-force winds, or blizzard conditions. Nor'easters are usually most intense during winter in New England and Atlantic Canada. They thrive on converging air masses—the cold polar air mass and the warmer air over the water—and are more severe in winter when the difference in temperature between these air masses is greater. [1] [2] [3]

Atmospheric pressure, sometimes also called barometric pressure, is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. The standard atmosphere is a unit of pressure defined as 1013.25 mbar (101325 Pa), equivalent to 760 mm Hg (torr), 29.9212 inches Hg, or 14.696 psi. The atm unit is roughly equivalent to the mean sea-level atmospheric pressure on Earth, that is, the Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level is approximately 1 atm.

North Carolina State of the United States of America

North Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th-most extensive and the 9th-most populous of the U.S. states. The state is divided into 100 counties. The capital is Raleigh, which along with Durham and Chapel Hill is home to the largest research park in the United States. The most populous municipality is Charlotte, which is the second-largest banking center in the United States after New York City.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Nor'easters tend to develop most often and most powerfully between the months of November and March, although they can (much less commonly) develop during other parts of the year as well. The susceptible regions are generally impacted by nor'easters a few times each winter. [4] [5] [6]

Etymology and usage

Compass card (1607), featuring the spelling "Noreast" Compass thumbnail.jpg
Compass card (1607), featuring the spelling "Noreast"

The term nor'easter came to American English by way of British English. The earliest recorded uses of the contraction nor (for north) in combinations such as nor'-east and nor-nor-west, as reported by the Oxford English Dictionary , date to the late 16th century, as in John Davis's 1594 The Seaman's Secrets: "Noreast by North raiseth a degree in sayling 24 leagues." [7] The spelling appears, for instance, on a compass card published in 1607. Thus, the manner of pronouncing from memory the 32 points of the compass, known in maritime training as "boxing the compass", is described by Ansted [8] with pronunciations "Nor'east (or west)," "Nor' Nor'-east (or west)," "Nor'east b' east (or west)," and so forth. According to the OED, the first recorded use of the term "nor'easter" occurs in 1836 in a translation of Aristophanes. The term "nor'easter" naturally developed from the historical spellings and pronunciations of the compass points and the direction of wind or sailing.[ citation needed ]

American English Set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. It is considered one of the most influential dialects of English globally, including on other varieties of English.

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

<i>Oxford English Dictionary</i> Premier historical dictionary of the English language

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press. It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.

As noted in a January 2006 editorial by William Sisson, editor of Soundings magazine, [9] use of "nor'easter" to describe the storm system is common along the U.S. East Coast. Yet it has been asserted by linguist Mark Liberman (see below) that "nor'easter" as a contraction for "northeaster" has no basis in regional New England dialect; the Boston accent would elide the "R": no'theastuh'. He describes nor'easter as a "fake" word. However, this view neglects the little-known etymology and the historical maritime usage described above.

A Boston accent is a local accent of Eastern New England English native specifically to the city of Boston and its suburbs. Eastern New England English also traditionally includes New Hampshire, Maine, all of eastern Massachusetts, and arguably Rhode Island, though some uniquely local vocabulary appears only around Boston. Some of the characteristics of traditional Boston accents may be retreating, particularly among younger residents. However, linguist William Labov claims that, in the twenty-first century, there remains a relatively stable Boston accent.

19th-century Downeast mariners pronounced the compass point "north northeast" as "no'nuth-east", and so on.[ citation needed ] For decades, Edgar Comee, of Brunswick, Maine, waged a determined battle against use of the term "nor'easter" by the press, which usage he considered "a pretentious and altogether lamentable affectation" and "the odious, even loathsome, practice of landlubbers who would be seen as salty as the sea itself". His efforts, which included mailing hundreds of postcards, were profiled, just before his death at the age of 88, in The New Yorker . [10]

Brunswick, Maine Place in Maine, United States

Brunswick is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 20,278 at the 2010 United States Census. Part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area, Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, and the Maine State Music Theatre. It was formerly home to the U.S. Naval Air Station Brunswick, which was permanently closed on May 31, 2011.

<i>The New Yorker</i> Magazine on politics, social issues, art, humor, and culture, based in New York City

The New Yorker is an American magazine featuring journalism, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry. Started as a weekly in 1925, the magazine is now published 47 times annually, with five of these issues covering two-week spans. Although its reviews and events listings often focus on the cultural life of New York City, The New Yorker has a wide audience outside New York and is read internationally. It is well known for its illustrated and often topical covers, its commentaries on popular culture and eccentric Americana, its attention to modern fiction by the inclusion of short stories and literary reviews, its rigorous fact checking and copy editing, its journalism on politics and social issues, and its single-panel cartoons sprinkled throughout each issue.

Despite the efforts of Comee and others, use of the term continues by the press. According to Boston Globe writer Jan Freeman, "from 1975 to 1980, journalists used the nor’easter spelling only once in five mentions of such storms; in the past year (2003), more than 80 percent of northeasters were spelled nor'easter". [11]

University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Liberman has pointed out that while the Oxford English Dictionary cites examples dating back to 1837, these examples represent the contributions of a handful of non-New England poets and writers. Liberman posits that "nor'easter" may have originally been a literary affectation, akin to "e'en" for "even" and "th'only" for "the only", which is an indication in spelling that two syllables count for only one position in metered verse, with no implications for actual pronunciation. [12]

However, despite these assertions, the term can be found in the writings of New Englanders, and was frequently used by the press in the 19th century.

Usage existed into the 20th century in the form of:

Geography and formation characteristics

Surface temperature of the sea off the east coast of North America. The corridor in yellow gives the position of the Gulf Stream Gulf Stream water temperature.jpg
Surface temperature of the sea off the east coast of North America. The corridor in yellow gives the position of the Gulf Stream


Nor'easters develop in response to the sharp contrast in the warm Gulf Stream ocean current coming up from the tropical Atlantic and the cold air masses coming down from Canada. When the very cold and dry air rushes southward and meets up with the warm Gulf stream current, which is often near 70 °F (21 °C) even in mid-winter, intense low pressure develops.

In the upper atmosphere, the strong winds of the jet stream remove and replace rising air from the Atlantic more rapidly than the Atlantic air is replaced at lower levels; this and the Coriolis force help develop a strong storm. The storm tracks northeast along the East Coast, normally from North Carolina to Long Island, then moves toward the area east of Cape Cod. Counterclockwise winds around the low-pressure system blow the moist air over land. The relatively warm, moist air meets cold air coming southward from Canada. The low increases the surrounding pressure difference, which causes the very different air masses to collide at a faster speed. When the difference in temperature of the air masses is larger, so is the storm's instability, turbulence, and thus severity. [1] [20]

The nor'easters taking the East Coast track usually indicates the presence of a high-pressure area in the vicinity of Nova Scotia. [21] Sometimes a nor'easter will move slightly inland and bring rain to the cities on the coastal plain (New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc.) and snow in New England (Boston northward). It can move slightly offshore, bringing a wet snow south of Boston to Richmond, Virginia, or even parts of the Carolinas. [22] Such a storm will rapidly intensify, tracking northward and following the topography of the East Coast, sometimes continuing to grow stronger during its entire existence. A nor'easter usually reaches its peak intensity while off the Canadian coast. The storm then reaches Arctic areas, and can reach intensities equal to that of a weak hurricane. It then meanders throughout the North Atlantic and can last for several weeks. [22]


Nor'easters are usually formed by an area of vorticity associated with an upper-level disturbance or from a kink in a frontal surface that causes a surface low-pressure area to develop. Such storms are very often formed from the merging of several weaker storms, a "parent storm", and a polar jet stream mixing with the tropical jet stream.

Until the nor'easter passes, thick, dark, low-level clouds often block out the sun. Temperatures usually fall significantly due to the presence of the cooler air from winds that typically come from a northeasterly direction. During a single storm, the precipitation can range from a torrential downpour to a fine mist. All precipitation types can occur in a nor'easter. High wind gusts, which can reach hurricane strength, are also associated with a nor'easter. On very rare occasions, such as in the nor'easter in 1978, North American blizzard of 2006, and January 2018 North American blizzard, the center of the storm can take on the circular shape more typical of a hurricane and have a small "dry slot" near the center, which can be mistaken for an eye, although it is not an eye.

Difference from tropical cyclones

Often, people mistake nor'easters for tropical cyclones and do not differentiate between the two weather systems. Nor'easters differ from tropical cyclones in that nor'easters are cold-core low-pressure systems, meaning that they thrive on drastic changes in temperature of Canadian air and warm Atlantic waters. Tropical cyclones are warm-core low-pressure systems, which means they thrive on purely warm temperatures.

Difference from other extratropical storms

A nor'easter is formed in a strong extratropical cyclone, usually experiencing bombogenesis. While this formation occurs in many places around the world, nor'easters are unique for their combination of northeast winds and moisture content of the swirling clouds. Nearly similar conditions sometimes occur during winter in the Pacific Northeast (northern Japan and northwards) with winds from NW-N. In Europe, similar weather systems with such severity are hardly possible; the moisture content of the clouds is usually not high enough to cause flooding or heavy snow, though NE winds can be strong.


The eastern United States, from North Carolina to Maine, and Eastern Canada can experience nor'easters, though most often they affect the areas from northern New Jersey northward. The effects of a nor'easter sometimes bring high surf and strong winds as far south as coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Nor'easters cause a significant amount of beach erosion in these areas, as well as flooding in the associated low-lying areas.

Biologists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod have determined nor'easters are an environmental factor for red tides on the Atlantic coast.

List of nor'easters

A list of nor'easters with short description about the events.

Great Blizzard of 1888 March 11–14, 1888One of the worst blizzards in U.S. history. Dropped 40–50 inches (100–130 cm) of snow, killed 400 people, mostly in New York.
Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950 November 24–30, 1950A very severe storm that dumped more than 30 inches (76 cm) of snow in many major metropolitan areas along the eastern United States, record breaking temperatures, and hurricane-force winds. The storm killed 353 people.
Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 March 5–9, 1962Caused severe tidal flooding and blizzard conditions from the Mid-Atlantic to New England, killed 40 people.
Eastern Canadian Blizzard of March 1971 March 3–5, 1971Dropped over 32 inches (81 cm) of snow over areas of eastern Canada, killed at least 30 people.
Groundhog Day gale of 1976 February 1–5, 1976Caused blizzard conditions for much of New England and eastern Canada, dropping a maximum of 56 inches (140 cm) of snow.
Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978 February 5–7, 1978A catastrophic storm, which dropped over 27 inches (69 cm) of snow in areas of New England, killed a total of 100 people, mainly people trapped in their cars on metropolitan Boston's inner beltway and in Rhode Island.
1991 Perfect Storm (the "Perfect Storm," combined Nor'easter/hurricane)October 28 – November 2, 1991Very unusual storm in which a tropical and extratropical system interacted strangely, tidal surge caused severe damage to coastal areas, especially Massachusetts, killed 13 people.
December 1992 nor'easter December 10–12, 1992A powerful storm which caused severe coastal flooding throughout much of the northeastern United States.
1993 Storm of the Century March 12–15, 1993A superstorm which affected the entire eastern U.S., parts of eastern Canada and Cuba. It caused 6.65 billion (2008 USD) in damage, and killed 310 people.
Christmas 1994 nor'easter December 22–26, 1994An intense storm which affected the east coast of the U.S., and exhibited traits of a tropical cyclone.
North American blizzard of 1996 January 6–10, 1996Severe snowstorm which brought up to 4 feet (120 cm) of snow to areas of the mid-atlantic and northeastern U.S..
North American blizzard of 2003 February 14–22, 2003Dropped over 2 feet (61 cm) of snow in several major cities, including Boston, and New York City, affected large areas of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S., and killed a total of 27 people.
White Juan of 2004 February 17–23, 2004A blizzard that affected Atlantic Canada, crippling transportation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and dropping over 37 inches (94 cm) of snow in areas.
North American blizzard of 2005 January 20–23, 2005Brought blizzard conditions to southern New England and dropped over 40 inches (100 cm) of snow in areas of Massachusetts.
North American blizzard of 2006 February 11–13, 2006A powerful storm that developed a hurricane-like eye when off the coast of New Jersey. It brought over 30 inches (76 cm) of snow in some areas and killed 3 people.
April 2007 nor'easter April 13–17, 2007An unusually late storm that dumped heavy snow in parts of Northern New England and Canada and heavy rains elsewhere. The storm caused a total of 18 fatalities.
November 2009 nor'easter November 11–17, 2009Formed from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, produced moderate storm surge, strong winds and very heavy rainfall throughout the mid-atlantic region. It caused US$300 million (2009) in damage, and killed six people.
December 2009 North American blizzard December 16–20, 2009A major blizzard which affected large metropolitan areas, including New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, and Boston. In some of these areas, the storm brought up to 2 feet (61 cm) of snow.
March 2010 nor'easter March 12–16, 2010A slow-moving nor'easter that devastated the Northeastern United States. Winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) snapped trees and power lines, resulting in over 1 million homes and businesses left without electricity. The storm produced over 10 inches (25 cm) of rain in New England, causing widespread flooding of urban and low-lying areas. The storm also caused extensive coastal flooding and beach erosion.
December 2010 North American blizzard December 5, 2010 – January 15, 2011A severe and long-lasting blizzard which dropped up to 36 inches (91 cm) of snow throughout much of the eastern United States.
January 8–13, 2011 North American blizzard and January 25–27, 2011 North American blizzard January 8–13 and January 25–27, 2011In January 2011, two nor'easters struck the East Coast of the United States just two weeks apart and severely crippled New England and the Mid-Atlantic. During the first of the two storms, a record of 40 inches (100 cm) was recorded in Savoy, Massachusetts. Two people were killed.
2011 Halloween nor'easter October 28 – November 1, 2011A rare, historic nor'easter, which produced record breaking snowfall for October in many areas of the Northeastern U.S., especially New England. The storm produced a maximum of 32 inches (81 cm) of snow in Peru, Massachusetts, and killed 39 people. After the storm, the rest of the winter for New England remained very quiet, with much less than average snowfall and no other significant storms to strike the region for the rest of the season.
November 2012 nor'easter November 7–10, 2012A moderately strong nor'easter that struck the same regions that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy a week earlier. The storm exacerbated the problems left behind by Sandy, knocking down trees that were weakened by Sandy. It also left several residents in the Northeast without power again after their power was restored following Hurricane Sandy. Highest snowfall total from the storm was 13 inches (33 cm), recorded in Clintonville, Connecticut.
Late December 2012 North American storm complex December 17–31, 2012A major nor'easter that was known for its tornado outbreak across the Gulf Coast states on Christmas day as well as giving areas such as northeastern Texas a white Christmas. The low underwent secondary cyclogenesis near the coast of North Carolina and dumped a swath of heavy snow across northern New England and New York, caused blizzard conditions across the Ohio Valley, as well as an ice storm in the mountains of the Virginia and West Virginia.
Early February 2013 North American blizzard February 7–18, 2013An extremely powerful and historic nor'easter that dumped heavy snow and unleashed hurricane-force wind gusts across New England. Many areas received well over 2 feet (61 cm) of snow, especially Connecticut, Rhode Island, and eastern Massachusetts. The highest amount recorded was 40 inches (100 cm) in Hamden, Connecticut, and Gorham, Maine, received a record 35.5 inches (90 cm). Over 700,000 people were left without power and travel in the region came to a complete standstill. On the afternoon of February 9, when the storm was pulling away from the Northeastern United States, a well defined eye was seen in the center. The eye feature was no longer there the next day and the storm quickly moved out to sea. The nor'easter later moved on to impact the United Kingdom, before finally dissipating on February 20. The storm killed 18 people.
March 2013 nor'easter March 1–21, 2013A large and powerful nor'easter that ended up stalling along the eastern seaboard due to a blocking ridge of high pressure in Newfoundland and pivoted back heavy snow and strong winds into the Northeast United States for a period of 2 to 3 days. Many officials and residents were caught off guard as local weather stations predicted only a few inches (several centimeters) of snow and a change over to mostly rain. Contrary to local forecasts, many areas received over one foot (30 cm) of snow, with the highest amount being 29 inches (74 cm) in Milton, Massachusetts. Several schools across the region, particularly in the Boston, Massachusetts, metropolitan area, remained in session during the height of the storm, not knowing the severity of the situation. Rough surf and rip currents were felt all the way southwards towards Florida's east coast.
January 2015 North American blizzard January 23–31, 2015Unlike recent historical winter storms, there was no indication that a storm of this magnitude was coming until about 3 days in advance. The European computer model (ECMWF) first picked up on the potential for the nor'easter sometime before January 24. By the afternoon of January 24, most if not all major computer models were forecasting the storm to be much more severe than previously indicated earlier in the week. On the same day, the National Weather Service said they were aware about the potential for a major, crippling snowstorm but decided to hold off on winter weather headlines due to still being in the middle of another nor'easter. The Blizzard began as an Alberta Clipper in the Midwestern States, which was forecast to transfer its energy to a new, secondary Low Pressure off the coast of the Mid Atlantic and move northeastward and pass to the south and east of New England. Before the transition began, most of the area was being affected by generally light snow on the morning and afternoon of January 26. It wasn't until the evening into the early morning hours of January 27, that the storm was forecast to begin rapid deepening, stall, and also do a loop. It did stall for a time, however, the loop of the storm that was forecast did not happen. Due to this the storm began to slowly pull away to the northeast, a little quicker than expected. Contrary to local forecasts, western portions of the area, including western Connecticut and New York City only receiving a general 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of snow, with a maximum of 9 inches (23 cm) recorded at Central Park. Further to the east, the storm brought over 20 inches (51 cm) of snow to much of the area, with several reports of over 30 inches (76 cm) across the State of Massachusetts, breaking many records. A maximum of 36 inches (91 cm) was recorded in at least four towns across Worcester County in Massachusetts and the city of Worcester itself received 34.5 inches (88 cm), marking the city's largest storm snowfall accumulation on record. The city of Boston recorded 24.6 inches (62 cm), making it the largest storm snowfall accumulation during the month of January and the city's sixth largest storm snowfall accumulation on record. On the coast of Massachusetts, Hurricane Force gusts up to around 80 mph (130 km/h) along with sustained winds between 50 and 55 mph (80 and 89 km/h) at times, were reported. The storm also caused severe coastal flooding and storm surge. The storm bottomed out to a central pressure of 970 mb (970 hPa). By January 28, the storm began to pull away from the area.
October 2015 North American storm complex September 29 – October 2, 2015In early October, a low pressure system formed in the Atlantic, Tapping into moisture from Hurricane Joaquin, the storm dumped a huge amount of rain, mostly in South Carolina.
January 2016 United States blizzard (also known as Winter Storm Jonas, Snowzilla, or The Blizzard of 2016 by media outlets)January 19–29, 2016This system dumped 2 to 3 feet (61 to 91 cm) of snow in the East Coast of the United States. States of Emergencies were declared in 12 States in advance of the storm as well as by the Mayor of Washington D.C.. The blizzard also caused significant storm surge in New Jersey and Delaware that was equal to or worse than Hurricane Sandy. Sustained damaging winds over 50 mph (80 km/h) were recorded in many coastal communities, with a maximum gust to 85 mph (137 km/h) on Assateague Island, Virginia. A total of 55 people died due to the storm.
February 2017 United States blizzard (also known as Winter Storm Niko and The Blizzard of 2017 by media outlets)February 6–11, 2017Forming as an Alberta clipper in the northern United States on February 6, the system initially produced light snowfall from the Midwest to the Ohio Valley as it tracked southeastwards. It eventually reached the East Coast of the United States on February 9 and began to rapidly grow into a powerful nor'easter, dumping 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 cm) across the Northeast Megapolis. The storm also produced prolific thunder and lightning across Southern New England. Prior to the blizzard, unprecedented and record-breaking warmth had enveloped the region, with record highs of above 60 °F (16 °C) recorded in several areas, including Central Park in New York City. Some were caught off guard by the warmth and had little time to prepare for the snowstorm.
October 2017 nor'easterOctober 28–31, 2017An extratropical storm absorbed the remnants of Tropical Storm Philippe. The combined systems became an extremely powerful nor'easter that wreaked havoc across the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. The storm produced sustained tropical storm force winds along with hurricane force wind gusts. The highest wind gust recorded was 93 mph (150 km/h) in Popponesset, Massachusetts. The storm caused over 1,400,000 power outages. Damage across New England, especially in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, was extreme. This was due to the combination of the high winds, heavy rainfall, saturated ground, and most trees still being fully leaved. Autumn foliage in parts of northern New England was removed from the landscape in a matter of hours due to high winds. Some residents in Connecticut were without power for nearly a week following the storm. Heavy rain in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, with up to 98 mm (3.9 in) in the Canadian capital region of Ottawa, greatly interfered with transportation.
January 2018 North American blizzard January 2–6, 2018A powerful blizzard that caused severe disruption along the East Coast of the United States and Canada. It dumped snow and ice in places that rarely receive wintry precipitation, even in the winter, such as Florida and Georgia, and produced snowfall accumulations of over 2 feet (61 cm) in the Mid-Atlantic states, New England, and Atlantic Canada. The storm originated on January 3 as an area of low pressure off the coast of the Southeast. Moving swiftly to the northeast, the storm explosively deepened while moving parallel to the Eastern Seaboard, causing significant snowfall accumulations. The storm received various unofficial names, such as Winter Storm Grayson, Blizzard of 2018 and Storm Brody. The storm was also dubbed a "historic bomb cyclone", with a minimum central pressure of 948 mb, similar to that of a Category 3 or 4 hurricane
March 1-3, 2018 nor'easter (also known as Winter Storm Riley or False Tropical Storm Riley by media outlets)March 1–5, 2018A very powerful nor'easter that caused major impacts in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States. It originated as the northernmost low of a stationary front over the Midwest on March 1, which moved eastward into the Northeast later that night. A new low pressure system rapidly formed off the coast on March 2 as it slowly meandered near the coastline. It peaked later that day and began to gradually move out to sea by March 3. Producing over 2 feet (24 in) of snow in some areas, it was one of the most significant March snowstorms in many areas, particularly in Upstate New York. In other areas, it challenged storm surge records set by other significant storms, such as Hurricane Sandy. It also produced widespread damaging winds, with gusts well over Hurricane force strength in some areas across Eastern New England as well as on the back side in the Mid-Atlantic via a sting jet. Over 2.2 million customers were left without power.
March 6-8, 2018 nor'easter (also known as Winter Storm Quinn by media outlets)March 2–9, 2018A powerful nor'easter that affected the Northeast United States. It came just days after another nor'easter devastated much of the Northeast. Frequent cloud to ground Thundersnow as well as snowfall rates of up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) an hour were reported in areas around the Tri-State Area, signaling the rapid intensification of the storm. Late in the afternoon, an eye-like feature was spotted near the center of the storm. It dumped over 2 feet of snow in many areas across the Northeast, including many areas in New England where the predominant precipitation type was rain for the previous storm. Over 1 million power outages were reported at the height of the storm due to the weight of the heavy, wet snow on trees and power lines. Many people who lost power in the previous storm found themselves in the dark again.
March 12–14, 2018 nor'easter (also known as Winter Storm Skylar by media outlets)March 11–14, 2018A powerful nor'easter that affected portions of the Northeast United States. The storm underwent rapid intensification with a central millibaric pressure dropping down from 1001 mb to 974 mb in just 24 hours. This was the third major storm to strike the area within a period of 11 days. The storm dumped over up 2 feet of snow and brought Hurricane force wind gusts to portions of Eastern New England. Hundreds of public school districts including, Boston, Hartford, and Providence were closed on Tuesday, March 13.
March 20–22, 2018 nor'easter (also known as Winter Storm Toby and Four'easter by media outlets)March 20–22, 2018A powerful nor'easter that became the fourth major nor'easter to affect the Northeast United States in a period of less than three weeks. It caused a severe weather outbreak over the Southern United States on March 19 before moving off of the North Carolina coast on March 20 and spreading freezing rain and snow into the Mid-Atlantic States after shortly dissipating later that night. A new low pressure center then formed off of Chesapeake Bay on March 21 and then became the primary nor'easter. Dry air prevented most of the precipitation from reaching the ground in areas in New England such as Boston, Hartford, and Providence, all of which received little to no accumulation, in contrast with what local forecasts had originally predicted. In Islip, New York at the height of the storm, snowfall rates of up to 5 inches per hour were reported. 8 inches was reported at Central Park and over 12 inches was reported in many locations on Long Island as well in and around New York City and in parts of New Jersey. Over 100,000 customers lost power at the peak of the storm, mostly due to the weight of the heavy, wet snow on trees and power lines, with a majority of the outages being in New Jersey.
July 21–22, 2018 nor'easterJuly 21–22, 2018A rare summertime nor'easter that developed off the coast of North Carolina along the warm front of a powerful upper level low during July 21 and retrograded to the west into Delaware and Pennsylvania then rapidly weakened in Upstate New York on the morning of July 22. An extremely rare summertime Wind Advisory was issued for parts of New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, and Connecticut. The storm produced strong to damaging winds that created tropical storm conditions for much of New Jersey, New York City, and Long Island. The western side of the storm also brought excessive rainfall and extensive flooding in several metropolitan areas in the Mid-Atlantic States while the tail of the storm channeled a huge moisture feed into Southern New England along with the threat for waterspouts and tornadoes, though none were reported.
October 25th - 28th nor'easterOctober 25-28, 2018An early season nor'easter that developed along the Gulf Coast near Louisiana and trekked northeastward then northward into Long Island and Southern New England. It formed on October 25th and absorbed the remnant moisture from Hurricane Willa. It brought severe weather along the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Carolinas, though only minor instances were reported. The nor'easter intensified on October 26th and the morning of October 27th, before becoming occluded and moving inland late on the 27th. The storm brought strong to damaging winds for many coastal areas in the Northeast as well as moderate to major coastal flooding for New York City, Long Island, and parts of Connecticut, with levels coming close to what was experienced during Hurricane Sandy, especially in western parts of Long Island Sound. The storm was also responsible for an early season snow to parts of Upstate New York and Northern New England. Accumulations were minor.
April 2nd - 4th nor'easterApril 2-4, 2019A very significant, large, and intense late season Nor'easter that brushed parts of the East Coast of the United States while undergoing explosive cyclogensis. Impacts were thankfully very minor and limited to light to moderate rain in parts of Eastern North Carolina and in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. Some snow, however was reported in downtown Charlotte and nearby locations in North Carolina during the afternoon of April 2nd, though no accumulation was reported. Minor accumulations were reported in parts of Downeast Maine as well as in the higher terrain areas of Northern Massachusetts and Connecticut before daybreak on April 3rd. Behind the storm, many of these same areas that experienced snow warmed significantly in a matter of a few hours from around 30 degrees to above 60 degrees on strong westerly winds of 50 mph. The winds prompted several Red Flag Warnings across the Northeastern United States, mainly west of the Hudson River Valley. On April 4th, while the winds were weaker, Red Flag Warnings were then expanded to all of Southern New England and Long Island. Winds of 50 mph continued across Eastern Maine as the nor'easter continued to pull into the Canadian Maritimes.

See also

Related Research Articles

Blizzard type of snowstorm

A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 56 km/h (35 mph) and lasting for a prolonged period of time—typically three hours or more. A ground blizzard is a weather condition where snow is not falling but loose snow on the ground is lifted and blown by strong winds. Blizzards can have an immense size and usually stretch to hundreds or thousands of kilometres.

Surface weather analysis

Surface weather analysis is a special type of weather map that provides a view of weather elements over a geographical area at a specified time based on information from ground-based weather stations.

A low-pressure area, low, depression or cyclone is a region on the topographic map where the atmospheric pressure is lower than that of surrounding locations. Low-pressure systems form under areas of wind divergence that occur in the upper levels of the troposphere. The formation process of a low-pressure area is known as cyclogenesis. Within the field of meteorology, atmospheric divergence aloft occurs in two areas. The first area is on the east side of upper troughs, which form half of a Rossby wave within the Westerlies. A second area of wind divergence aloft occurs ahead of embedded shortwave troughs, which are of smaller wavelength. Diverging winds aloft ahead of these troughs cause atmospheric lift within the troposphere below, which lowers surface pressures as upward motion partially counteracts the force of gravity.

The synoptic scale in meteorology is a horizontal length scale of the order of 1000 kilometers or more. This corresponds to a horizontal scale typical of mid-latitude depressions. Most high and low-pressure areas seen on weather maps such as surface weather analyses are synoptic-scale systems, driven by the location of Rossby waves in their respective hemisphere. Low-pressure areas and their related frontal zones occur on the leading edge of a trough within the Rossby wave pattern, while high-pressure areas form on the back edge of the trough. Most precipitation areas occur near frontal zones. The word synoptic is derived from the Greek word συνοπτικός, meaning seen together.

Alberta clipper storm system common to North America

An Alberta-clipper is a fast moving low pressure area weather system which generally affects the central provinces of Canada, as well as parts of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northeastern United States regions, precipitating a sudden temperature drop and sharp winds. Alberta clippers take their name from Alberta, the province from which they appear to descend, and from clipper ships of the 19th century, one of the fastest ships of that time.

Panhandle hook

A panhandle hook is a relatively infrequent winter storm system whose cyclogenesis occurs in the South to southwestern United States from the late fall through winter and into the early spring months. They trek to the northeast on a path towards the Great Lakes region, as the southwesterly jet streams are most prevalent, usually affecting the Midwestern United States and Eastern Canada. Panhandle hooks account for some of the most memorable and deadly blizzards and snowstorms in North America. The name is derived from the region of surface cyclogenesis in the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma panhandle regions. In some winters, there are no panhandle hook storms; in others, there are several.

Severe weather

Severe weather refers to any dangerous meteorological phenomena with the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, or loss of human life. Types of severe weather phenomena vary, depending on the latitude, altitude, topography, and atmospheric conditions. High winds, hail, excessive precipitation, and wildfires are forms and effects of severe weather, as are thunderstorms, downbursts, tornadoes, waterspouts, tropical cyclones, and extratropical cyclones. Regional and seasonal severe weather phenomena include blizzards (snowstorms), ice storms, and duststorms.

Climate of North Carolina

North Carolina's climate varies from the Atlantic coast in the east to the Appalachian Mountain range in the west. The mountains often act as a "shield", blocking low temperatures and storms from the Midwest from entering the Piedmont of North Carolina. Most of the state has a humid subtropical climate, except in the higher elevations of the Appalachians which have a subtropical highland climate. The USDA hardiness zones for the state range from zone 5a in the mountains to zone 8b along the coast. For most areas in the state, the temperatures in July during the daytime are approximately 90 °F (32 °C). In January the average temperatures range near 50 °F (10 °C).

December 2003 noreaster

The December 2003 New England snowstorm was a severe nor'easter that impacted the Eastern United States during the first week of the month. It produced heavy snowfall throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, exceeding 40 inches (100 cm) in northern New England. The cyclone had complex origins, involving several individual weather disturbances. An area of low pressure primarily associated with the southern branch of the jet stream spread light precipitation across portions of the Midwest and Southeast. The low reached the coast on December 5 and continued to produce snow throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Another system involving the northern branch of the jet stream merged with the initial storm, causing another coastal storm to develop. This storm soon became the primary feature as it intensified and moved northeastward. It reached Cape Cod on December 6, but became nearly stationary through the morning of December 7. It had finally dissipated by December 8.

February 1987 noreaster

The February 1987 nor'easter was a significant winter storm in the US that impacted the Mid-Atlantic States around the end of the month. It delivered 8–12 hours of heavy, wet snowfall to several states from West Virginia to New York between February 22 and February 24. The storm was both preceded and followed by relatively warm temperatures, causing the snow to rapidly melt. The mild conditions were the result of a moderate anticyclone over the region that deteriorated as the nor'easter approached. Cold air damming likely took place prior to the storm's formation.

December 1960 noreaster

The December 1960 nor'easter was a significant early-season winter storm that impacted the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the United States. Moderate to heavy snowfall fell from West Virginia to eastern Maine, amounting to 10 in (25 cm) or more in parts of 13 states and peaking at 21.4 in (54.4 cm) at Newark, New Jersey. The storm was accompanied by strong winds, gusting to over 90 mph (145 km/h) in coastal New England, and left in its wake a dangerously cold air mass. The storm originated in a weak low pressure area which formed over the western Gulf of Mexico on December 10. A secondary low developed over South Carolina on the next day, supported by the merger of two troughs aloft. Sliding southeast of New England, the new storm explosively deepened to become a full-fledged nor'easter, with a minimum central air pressure of 966 mbar. It began to weaken over the Canadian Maritimes.

December 1969 noreaster

The December 1969 nor'easter was a strong winter storm that mainly affected the Northeastern United States and southern Quebec between December 25 and December 28, 1969. The multi-faceted storm system included a tornado outbreak, record snow accumulations, a damaging ice storm, and flooding rains.

2015–16 North American winter

The 2015–16 North American winter refers to winter in North America as it occurred across the continent from late 2015 through early 2016. Contrary to the past two winters, the United States experienced warmer conditions, mainly due to a strong El Niño. However, despite the warmth, significant weather systems still occurred, including a a snowstorm and flash flooding in Texas at the end of December and a large tornado outbreak at the end of February. The main event of the winter was when a crippling and historic blizzard struck the Northeast in late January, dumping up to 3 feet of snow in and around the metropolitan areas.

The Early February 2016 nor'easter was a potent nor'easter moved up the east coast, causing more snow to the already-weary Northeast United States after the leading edge of the previous system and the historic blizzard of January 21–23. The storm dropped up to 12 in (0.30 m) of snow in parts of New England. Strong wind gusts were also reported along the eastern edge of New England.

2009–10 North American winter

The 2009-10 North American winter season started in late 2009 and ended in mid-2010.

2010–11 North American winter

The 2010–11 North American winter season started in late 2010 and ended in mid-2011.

2016–17 North American winter

The 2016–17 North American winter refers to winter in North America as it occurred across the continent from late 2016 through early 2017. During the winter, a weak La Niña was expected to influence weather conditions across the continent. Several notable events occurred during the season, including a potent winter storm that affected the East Coast of the United States in early January, the second-largest winter tornado outbreak on record later that month, and an unusually warm February. In addition, towards the end of the season, a large cyclonic storm system that caused a large tornado outbreak, flooding, and a potent blizzard in the heart of the country. However, the most notable event of the winter was a powerful blizzard that impacted the Northeast and New England in mid-March, towards the end of the season.

2017–18 North American winter

The 2017–18 North American winter refers to winter in North America as it occurred across the continent from late 2017 through early 2018. Similar to the previous winter, a La Niña was expected to influence the winter weather across North America. Winter weather patterns were very active, erratic, and protracted, especially near the end of the season. Significant events included rare snowfall in the South, a strong cold wave that affected the United States during the early weeks of January, and a series of strong nor'easters that affected the Northeastern U.S during the month of March. In addition, flooding also took place during the month of February in the Central United States. Finally the winter came to a conclusion with a powerful storm system that caused a tornado outbreak and flooding in mid-April. The most intense event, however, was an extremely powerful cyclonic blizzard that impacted the northeastern United States in the first week of 2018.


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