Snow and Blizzards
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
The following questions were answered by meteorologists Barbara McNaught Watson and Al Peterlin.
Q: How do blizzards form?
A: A blizzard is a snowstorm with very strong winds. A very strong low-pressure system followed by a very strong high-pressure system during the winter months can result in a blizzard — windy and snowing as the low passes, and then the strong winds after the low that moves snow around on the ground about. In the summer we complain, "it's not the heat, it's the humidity." In the winter, it's not the cold, it's the wind. (Al Peterlin)
Q: Where does it snow the most in the United States?
A: According to the snow booklet by Nolan Doesken and Arthur Judson, the Paradise Weather Station near Mt. Rainier in Washington State, elevation 5,427 feet, is the snowiest reporting station in the United States. It averages 700 inches of snowfall on 127 days with measurable snowfall annually. (Al Peterlin)
Q: What causes a Nor'easter and how often do they occur?
A: Nor'easters usually form anytime from September through April. They are called "Nor'easters" because of the strong northeast winds. A Nor'easter is an intense low-pressure area. The winds blow around the low in a counterclockwise direction. These storms are unique from those that hit elsewhere in the US because they are closely tied to the warm Gulf Stream waters off our East Coast. These warm waters help to fuel the storms development and bring us all of that rain or in some cases, a lot of snow. A Nor'easter develops along the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast upon interacting with the Gulf Stream and then often moves north up the coastline into New England. Some of these storms are quite intense and can cause damage like that of a weak hurricane. While every storm is a little different and affects different portions of the coast, it is not uncommon to see a half dozen nor'easters through the fall into early spring, with two really intense ones. (Barbara McNaught Watson)