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Where do nor'easters come from?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. The fierce nor'easter storms that hit the U.S. East Coast come in two main varieties. Offshore-forming nor'easters move over water and are the stronger of the two types, dumping large amounts of snow. As this nor'easter continues to move north, it gets picked up by the Canadian jet stream, which pushes it out into the Atlantic Ocean. An onshore-forming nor'easter is the milder type, moving west of the coastal cities and consisting mostly of gusting winds and rains.

    A nor'easter has two main components, a Gulf Stream low-pressure system and an Arctic high-pressure system; the collision of these creates the storm. The Gulf Stream is a band of warm water in the Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. coast. A Gulf Stream low-pressure system contains counter-clockwise winds blowing off the coast of Florida. As the system spins, it gathers warm air and moisture. Strong winds blowing in a northeasterly direction pull the low-pressure system up the East Coast. As the storm moves north, it can collide with cold, Arctic air coming down from Canada. These winds circulate in a clockwise direction. When the moisture from the Gulf Stream storm system hits the cold air of the Arctic winds, a great deal of precipitation is the result.

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