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

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What Is A Nor'easter?

A powerful winter storm called a Nor’easter can bring heavy snow or rain along with high winds.

“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,” WHIO Meteorologist Kirstie 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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What is a Nor’easter and how does it form?

Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images
Workers continue snow removal efforts in the Back Bay neighborhood the day after a winter storm, on January 28, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The storm brought 24.4 inches of snow to Boston, and up to 36 inches in other parts of Massachusetts. (Photo by Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)

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