What is a Nor’easter?

I hope you plan on enjoying this nice day! Here is your Sunday weather story for this week!

What is a Nor’easter?

You have probably heard the word Nor’easter used by forecasters quite often in the winter months. In fact, it has already been used a few times this year. But do you understand what that word means?

The term Nor’easter is used to describe powerful storm systems that make their way up the East Coast of the United States. Major cities, such as New York and Washington D.C., are impacted by these systems.

The storms derive their name from their direction of movement, which is northeastward. They usually develop near the Carolinas and then move northeast along the coastline.

The storms develop due to the existence of a temperature gradient between the land and the sea. The ocean is often very warm, especially since the Gulf Stream Current runs northward along the East Coast, originating from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This current of warm ocean water can create a big contrast in temperature between the land and the ocean.

After the passage of a cold front, land areas of the Carolinas will cool, while the ocean remains warm. This creates a temperature contrast that can spin up a big storm. Mother Nature creates storm systems to even out the difference between cold and warm air masses; the greater the contrast, the stronger the storm.

The gradient between rain and snow is often very fine with Nor’easters. The winds ahead of the storm bring in warmer air from the ocean, while colder air moves in from the north. The coastal cities may get cold rain, while just a few miles inland heavy snow falls.

Nor’easters can bring damaging winds, coastal flooding, and extremely heavy snowfall to the Northeast. They are systems that we see every winter and this winter will be no exception.

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