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Weather Wisdom

Powerful nor'easter stays mostly out to sea

This year marks 23 years since Hurricane Bob hit New England. Thatís the last time a hurricane made landfall anywhere in the area. I bring this up today because the storm that is now moving into the Canadian Maritimes has winds as powerful as a hurricane. Had this storm been 150 to 200 miles closer to the coast, it would be created major or even catastrophic damage and brought the region to a standstill for days.

Itís only a matter of time before a monster storm like this does hit the New England coastline and itís likely to be a hurricane. If you go by averages, we should have had at least one hurricane hit the coast during the past decade. We've now gone longer than any recorded period without an official hurricane making landfall along the New England coastline.
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While todayís monstrous noríeaster isnít a hurricane, itís big. The reason itís not a hurricane is because hurricanes are born over warm tropical water and respond negatively to the kind of upper level winds and energy that created todayís storm.
Both types of storms are indeed low pressure systems and as such will rotate counterclockwise. Todayís storm even looks like it has a central ďeyeĒ of sorts, but the clear center isnít formed the same way as its tropical cousin.

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The storm is now battering Nova Scotia and when you look at the central pressure of the storm is certainly one of the stronger storms in this area during March. There are a lot of superlatives being thrown about concerning this storm, but there are also all sorts of ways to measure these things. Before we can classify where a storm like today fits we have to understand what we are comparing it to.

For example, how much snow or rain the storm brings,its wind strength, the pressure, the area it covers and number of people affected are all ways to look at a storm. While this is definitely a big storm, itís not a sign of an increase in this type of event nor is it the largest Atlantic storm we've seen. Ryan Maue tweeted one way to see the storm.
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Bomb of a Storm
For a storm to be classified as a meteorological bomb the pressure needs to drop with a drop 24 millibars in 24 hours. This storm nearly doubled that rate and fell an incredibly in 43 millibars in less than 24 hours. This more than met the criteria of rapid intensification known as ďbombogenesis.Ē

Although the center of the storm remained hundreds of miles off the coast, blizzard conditions were met at several stations on Cape Cod, Marthaís Vineyard and Nantucket. Itís certainly a testament to the power of this system that those sorts of observations occurred with a storm so far out to sea.

Hurricane Force Wind
Wind gusts reached hurricane strength across Nantucket this morning and just off the coast of Maine as I am writing this, a gust reached 119 miles per hour. This is from a buoy located 23 miles off the coast of Jonesport in extreme eastern sections of the Pine Tree State.
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Snowfall amounts over Cape Cod and the Islands have been tough to measure, but Nantucket has seen close to 10 inches of new snow. In late March this is a sizeable storm for the island where snow often turns to rain even in January.

The wind will slowly stop being as fierce overnight, but it will still be blustery and very cold. Temperatures will fall into the teens and lower 20s, still way below average. Sunshine returns for Thursday with a blustery day. Milder and wetter weather with some showers is on tap late Friday. Saturday night another coastal storm will bring precipitation, but right now it looks too warm for anything but a cold rain. That said, there could be some wet snow in northern and western areas.

While thinking about this storm we mostly missed, I am reminded of a comment I got Monday. A person berated me for wishing for spring and warm weather. It went on to say how happy I must be we were going to miss the upcoming storm an even included a suggestion I move south. While I do love winter storms no one needed something like this to hit us, especially with 5 days until the end of March. We are very fortunate this storm mostly bypassed the area, at some point we wonít be so lucky.

I'll leave you will the image below showing how the air is flowing in the western hemisphere this afternoon. Air flows into low pressure systems to try to fill them up. You can certainly see how air from thousands of miles away is feeding into this storm. The atmosphere is truly an amazing machine to me.
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