Winter Storm: A Blizzard Called Nemo Moves Into the Northeast

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While the Gulf of Mexico might be warm, the jet stream sends moist up up the coast, causing snow. Photo: Patrick Feller / CC by 2.0

While the Gulf of Mexico might be warm, the jet stream sends moist air up the coast, causing snow. Photo: Patrick Feller / CC by 2.0

Where Did Nemo Come From? When Low Pressure Systems Meet

The storm will occur as two low-pressure systems meet – one low-pressure system from the Ohio Valley and one from a coastal low-pressure system that is moving northeast. The two systems are following the jet streams across the United States toward the Northeast: One is an Arctic jet stream bringing cold winter air across the Midwest towards the Northeastern U.S., and the other a subtropical jet stream moving upwards from the Gulf of Mexico, carrying moisture.

This combination of wet and cold will bring snow and wind to the northeast. Subtropical weather systems tend to be warm, and warm air holds moisture – Arctic weather systems, on the other hand, are full of moving, cold winter air. When the two combine, strong winds and snowfall are the result. Depending on where the systems collide, there could be more or less snow in the northeast. If they merge over the ocean, there will be less snow on land.

Nemo in the Northeast: Historic Storm

On December 27, 2012, Montreal broke its all time record for snowfall – almost 50 cm (1.6+ feet) of snow fell. Today, Toronto is experiencing a winter storm that is expected to dump up to 40 cm of snow (1.3 feet) in a single day, potentially breaking single day records for the area. Depending on the amount of snow that falls today (an estimated 1-3 feet), this is a large amount of snow for any area, particularly since it is expected to fall in a short period of time. Part of the concern about this storm is also that the snow has combined with wind, creating dangerous travel conditions.

Why is this storm such a problem for Boston and other areas? The combination of wind and snow will create difficult conditions, even for a part of the country that’s no stranger to snow.

Nemo means nobody, a bit of a misnomer for a storm that everyone’s talking about. It’s a storm that the National Weather system has dubbed “potentially historic,” as residents across the northeast wait to see what this powerful storm has in store.

Resources

National Weather Services. NWS Marine Forecast. (2013). Accessed February 8th, 2013.

National Weather Service. Short Range Public Discussion. (2013). Accessed February 8th, 2013.

Flight Aware. Live Updates. (2013). Accessed February 8th, 2013.

Les Perreaux, Renata D’Aliesio. Montrealers take snow in stride as storm smashes 1971 record. (2012). The Globe And Mail. Accessed February 8th, 2013.

James Armstrong. OPP advising drivers to stay off the roads. Snowstorm slams Greater Toronto Area. (2013). Global News. Accessed February 8th, 2013.

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