Weather Blog

What does a Nor'Easter really look like?

What does a Nor'Easter really look like?
Hailing a cab in #NYC during a blizzard @burtonsnowboard style on Twitpic. (StevenRojas Twitpic">

A storm that just blew through New England dropping over two feet of snow and blasting the coast with over 50-60 mph winds (Cape Cod, MA hit a gust over 80 mph) not only managed to effective shut down the entire corridor...it made for some really amazing photography.

This time lapse video by Michael Black was taken in Belmar, New Jersey that shows about 20 hours of video in 40 seconds. Black doesn't give how much snow fell, but it looks like roughly 2 feet or so:

Turns out, there have been quite a few people over the past few years that have the foresight to set up a time lapse video before an approaching blizzard strikes. Here are three that hit the Washington,D.C. area in early February, 2010:

What is a Nor'Easter?

It's a colloquial term used by New Englanders to denote a winter storm that is characterized by blizzard like conditions of heavy snow and strong, sometimes-hurricane force winds. It gets its name from the tell-tale northeast winds.

Along the same lines, there's the traditional fisherman's hat that's called a "Sou'Wester" -- getting its origin from offering protection from strong southwest gales, akin to what our windstorms bring in the Pacific Northwest.

However, trying to get actual southwesterly-wind storms to get that name have never really stuck.

What is a blizzard?

Believe it or not, there is a minimum standard to getting an official blizzard. You have to have heavy snow combined with winds of 35 mph or more and visibilities 1/4 mile or less.

Blizzard warnings are exceedingly rare in the Northwest, but I have seen them on rare occasion, mainly in the Cascades. There was a blizzard warning on Dec. 20, 2008 in the foothills when heavy snow combined with an east wind storm to bring 70 mph winds and blowing snow to Enumclaw.

Snow in the forecast for Wednesday

The New England storm has abated, and now lowland snow potential shifts again back to the west coast with a few snow showers possible in the middle of the week. But it sure doesn't look like we'll have to deal with anything remotely similar to this:

Courtesy StevenRojas Twitpic