First Alert Weather In-Depth: What is a nor’easter and why do they affect our weather so much?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We should emphasize that this is not going be anything like Hurricane Ida. That produced massive amounts of flooding on that particular storm system in New York City, but this storm has an impact because it is covering thousands of miles and impacting millions of people.

We have a large number of watches and warnings that are in effect all across this area. There is a high wind warning for the eastern portions of Massachusetts. They may get wind gusts upwards of 65 to 75 mph. There are flash flood warnings that are in effect. This is mainly inland because of the amount of rainfall which is anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of rain. The extent of this moisture coming in off of the Atlantic Ocean is being thrown right back into Western New York. We saw a fair amount of that rainfall today.

The reason why it has the name Nor’easter is due to the prevailing winds that come in mainly out of the northeast. That is where these storms get their names.

What are the main ingredients of this type of storm? You get some colder air behind the weather system and there is lots of warm water in place at the gulf stream- especially this time of the year. That creates the explosive nature of these particular storm systems. So we have a couple of points to remember.

Number one: A Nor’easter usually will develop within about 100 miles of the coast and this can be anywhere from Georgia to the Carolinas all the way up through northern New England.

Number two: They have some very strong northeaster winds and when we get into the winter season we get snow. Sometimes they are called “white hurricanes” because the winds are strong and in addition, they are getting snow. And lastly, these storms are most violent anywhere from September to April. They can happen any time of the year, but usually through the fall season through the winter months, they have the most impact.

I was remembering the blizzard of 1993 that was a famous Nor’easter that had a huge impact on Rochester.