Boston, MA

Boston Residents Should Prepare For Another Nor'easter

Matt Lillywhite

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Boston is expected to experience several Nor'easters this winter, since dozens occur in the northeastern United States every year, with at least two considered severe. So, if you haven't already, it's worth buying any items you'll need to prepare for a powerful Nor'easter storm in Massachusetts. For example, according to FEMA, you should have a first-aid kit, flashlights, and extra cash since ATMs might be inoperable if power outages occur during a Nor'easter in Boston.

During the winter, the polar jet stream takes freezing Arctic air southward over the plains of Canada and the United States, then east into the Atlantic Ocean, where warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seeks to migrate northward. "The warm waters of the Gulf Stream help keep the coastal waters relatively mild during the winter, which in turn helps warm the cold winter air over the water. This difference in temperature between the warm air over the water and cold Arctic air over the land is the fuel that feeds Nor’easters," per NOAA.

Since hurricane season lasts from May to November, it's easy to draw parallels between Nor'easters and hurricanes. However, keep in mind that they are not the same thing. Even though both storms are Atlantic cyclones, hurricanes require warm air while Nor'easters require cold air. As shown in the image below, Nor'easters form along the east coast toward Boston, whereas hurricanes often form in warmer waters near the equator:

According to the Government of Massachusetts, "these storms can cause substantial damage to the Massachusetts coastline. Although they occur throughout the year, nor'easter season typically runs from October through April, when cold arctic air from the north combines with warm, moist air from the south and forms strong areas of low pressure. The resulting storms can bring hurricane-force winds, major storm waves and storm surges, and precipitation of all kinds—rain, sleet, freezing rain, snow—or all of it together."

Here's a video from Fox News that discusses how Nor'easters can impact Boston:

When Nor'easters hit Boston, power outages and flooding happens pretty frequently. Rainfall (or snowfall) is heavy, which inevitably results in slow traffic around Boston and also public transportation delays in the city.

A powerful Nor'easter last December caused a dangerous storm surge in Massachusetts, and created several billion dollars worth of damage. Also, a Nor'easter that hit Boston a few weeks ago caused flooding and power outages throughout the region. So, based on the fact that Boston has only had one Nor'easter so far this season, several more are statistically going to hit the city this winter.

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