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What is Nor’easter? Winter storm plaguing NYC explained

Nor’easter or Northeaster is a storm that originates along the East Coast of North America. The self-explanatory name highlights that the winds responsible for brewing this storm are typically from the northeast, which results in the states of that area, including New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, being engulfed in the resulting chaos.

A morning commuter walks through wind and snow during a Nor'easter winter storm in the Times Square area in New York City, U.S., February 13, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid(REUTERS)
A morning commuter walks through wind and snow during a Nor’easter winter storm in the Times Square area in New York City, U.S., February 13, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid(REUTERS)

These disturbances don’t always single out as snowstorms; these storms can also bring wind, rain and excessive floods to the affected regions. National Weather Service confirms that these can occur at any time of the year, but most violent ones are usually frequented between September and April. \

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With the ongoing onslaught of nature, New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, and neighbouring regions are facing an unrelenting snowstorm, which, as The New York Times claims, is expected to bring NYC’s “heaviest snow in over two years”.

Much like the present state of emergency has warned people against stepping out of their houses and staying off the roads, the worst storms can result in damages worth a billion dollars. Physical classes for all public schools in New York City have been suspended as remote lessons have been called to action. On top of that, the severe weather conditions have also led to the cancellation of several flights.

How are Nor’easters formed?

These storms generally erupt into existence in the latitudes between Georgia and New Jersey, within 100 miles of the East Coast. After their initial birth stage, they find momentum towards the northeast direction, fully shaping into the full-fledged merciless beasts they are near New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

Also read: NYC winter storm warning: Schools closed due to Nor’easter snow emergency

What follows after that is either heavy rains or snow (which it is this time), accompanied by strong gusts of wind and the aftermath of possible coastal flooding. These storms particularly hit heavily populated areas between Washington DC, Philadephia, Boston and New York.

They are quite likely during the winter as the polar jet stream pushes the cold Arctic air southward to the plains of Canada and the US. From there, it gets further transported to the Atlantic Ocean. However, the ocean is warm due to the Gulf Stream, a warm Atlantic ocean current originating from the Gulf of Mexico. The convergence of the cold air with the warm water results in a low-pressure system forming clouds and a storm.

History of Nor’easters

Similar winter storms struck many states in January 2024 as well. More than a foot of snow disrupted travel in several communities as heavy snow hit areas from the Northeast to New England.

Last year, FOX Weather recounted seven instances of some of the greatest storms that reeled unimaginable damage and human disruption. The list was as follows: the Blizzard of March 1888, the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, the1993 Storm of the Century, the blizzard of 1996, the rare October nor’easter in 2011, The Jan 22-24 nor’easter of 2016 and the Bomb cyclone of Jan 3-5, 2018.

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