What is a blizzard anyway? – After world

What is a blizzard?

Although the term is thrown around colloquially, a storm must meet certain meteorological criteria to be considered a blizzard. According to the National Weather Service, a blizzard is a storm with large amounts of blowing or falling snow and Winds in excess of 35 miles per hour combined to reduce visibility to a quarter mile or less for at least three hours.

Winter storms are annual in these areas, but snowstorms are not all that common. The last snowstorm in New England happened in March 2018.

This weekend’s weather could meet these standards in some areas; Meteorologists predict stormy conditions and as much as 2 inches of snowfall per hour. If it gets intense, some regions — notably eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island — could experience their biggest snow events in four years.

Whether or not we see a blizzard depends on the precise intensity and trajectory of the storm, as well as the interaction between the northern and southern branches of the jet stream.

Okay, what’s a nor’easter?

If you follow weather reports to see if a blizzard is on the way, you may see that meteorologists use a different term: nor’easter.

Nor’easters are less specifically defined; They are simply large areas of very low pressure that form storms off the east coast. she can occur at any time of the year but is most common and acute between September and April. Their name comes from their origin – they are usually caused by winds blowing from the northeast.

Northeasts are much more common than blizzards, sometimes bringing torrential downpours instead of snow. The downpours and blackouts of October 2021 were caused by a northeast, as was the memorable snowstorm of December 2020.

Some other notable Nor’easter to visit New England were the Great White Blizzard of 1888, which covered parts of Massachusetts with fifty inches of snow; the infamous 1978 blizzard that brought two feet of snow to the area and didn’t stop for 33 hours; and the “Snowmageddon” that afflicted Boston in January and February 2015, the National Weather Service said.

Another Nor’easter will likely make its way into the books this weekend.

What on earth is Bombogenese?

Perhaps the most ominous phrase you’ll hear in weather reports this week is “bomb cyclone.”

The term refers to storms that have undergone bomb arcesis, meaning they have experienced a precipitous drop in atmospheric pressure (at least 24 Millibar, if you want to get technical) over a 24-hour period and therefore quickly intensified.

The term bombbogenesis was coined in 1980 by Frederick Sanders, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He used the word — and the even more frightening synonym “explosive cyclogenesis” — to describe explosively intensifying winter storms. In recent years, many in New England have become familiar with the term. Just last October, a storm in Massachusetts went through bomb-making.

How is climate change affecting all of this?

Again, snowstorms are a hallmark of New England winters. But climate change is changing how these weather systems work and how intense they become.

Overall, studies amid the climate crisis show that New England and Massachusetts are experiencing higher temperatures and less snow simply because winters are getting shorter and average temperatures are rising. Last year, for example, Boston experienced both the warmest year and warmest winter on record.

However, data also show that although the snow falls less often north easter, blizzards, and other storms may also occur more intense due to other changing climatic factors. And yes, Bomb storms may occur more frequently.

The Gulf of Maine, for example, is one of the fastest warming bodies of water on earth. In fact, earlier this month, a research group announced that the inlet waters adjacent to Maine and northern Massachusetts have experienced record heat in recent months.

These high Gulf temperatures are contributing to the overall warming in New England. But water heat can also fuel storms, which suck thermal energy from warm surface water and create moisture in the air that can fall as rain or snow.

Material from previous Globe articles has been used in this report.

Dharna Noor can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @dharnanoor.

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