Nor’easters: What You Need to Know

The Northeast coast is set to be hit with their third Nor’easter in just two short weeks. Hundreds of thousands of residents are bracing for yet another round of intense blizzard conditions. Winter Storm Riley kicked off March weather with destructive winds, heavy snow and severe coastal flooding in the Northeast. Just a few days later, Winter Storm Quinn dumped even more heavy snow leading to more property damage and widespread power outages. With less than a week to recover, residents are already experiencing the heavy winds and snowfall from Winter Storm Skyler, which coincidentally falls on the exact dates of the 25th anniversary of Superstorm ‘93.

Nor’easter and Other Winter Weather Terms

Nor’easter is a term used to describe a strong area of low pressure along the East Coast of the United States that typically features winds from the northeast off the Atlantic Ocean. Nor’easters are most often associated with strong winter storms crawling up the Northeast coast, but snow is not a requirement for this type of storm classification. Nor’easters most commonly occur in the winter months, between September and April and can bring heavy rain or snow, strong winds, coastal flooding and rough seas to the affected areas.

When a nor’easter is a particularly strong storm, forecasters may throw around some other terms such as:

  • Blizzard Warning: Sustained winds or frequent gusts to at least 35 mph and considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to less than a quarter-mile.
  • Bombogenesis: Sometimes called a “bomb cyclone.” Occurs when a storm drops 24 millibars of pressure in 24 hours.
  • Thundersnow: A rare weather event in which thunder and lightning occur during a snowstorm, usually coinciding with very heavy snow that falls at a rate between 1 and 3 inches per hour.
  • Snow Squall Warning: Brief but intense snowfall rates that drop visibility and slicken roads. Issued for a short duration to a specified local area via the emergency system similar to how a tornado, severe thunderstorm or flash flooding warning is issued. This is a relatively new winter weather alert as of January 16, 2018. Currently, it can be issued by National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Detroit, Pittsburgh, State College, Pennsylvania, Binghamton, New York, and Burlington, Vermont.

What Can Agents Do?

While there’s not much agents can do once the storm has already begun, they should prepare for an influx of calls from their clients once the storm has passed. The most common damages following a nor’easter are caused by falling trees and coastal flooding. Agents can be proactive by reaching out to clients in affected areas and assist with their flood claims by providing them with resources that contain information on how to properly file a claim.

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