Nor'easters...What are They?
By Lill Hawkins

Nor'easters aren't as powerful as hurricanes, but they can be very
destructive. The March Nor'easter known as the Blizzard of 1993 did over a
billion dollars in damage up and down the East Coast from Maine to
Alabama. Not only was there snow with this storm, but it also spawned
several tornadoes and caused heavy flooding. As with almost all Nor'easters,
one of the worst effects of this storm was the beach erosion. Miles of coastline
were swept away and cottages and vacation homes succumbed to the heavy
wind and waves.

So what is a Nor'easter? Is it just a big windstorm with heavy rain? Do the
winds always have to come from the northeast? Do they occur more often at
one time of the year or the other? And what can the average person do to
protect themselves and their property from the effects of one of these
powerful storms?

First of all, Nor'easters can occur any time of year and many of them fizzle
out before they reach land or form onshore so that they don't do as much
damage. It's when a Nor'easter forms in the tropics, off Florida, soaks up the
warm moisture from the Gulf Stream as its northeast winds carry it up the
East Coast, and then meets Cold Arctic Air from Canada that the major cities
on the East Coast are threatened.

Boston, New York City, Washington DC, Baltimore and the major cities of
the Southeast are all close enough to the coast to be affected and many have
rivers that lead to them from the ocean, so flooding is often severe. When
there is a higher than usual ocean tide, as there was in April of 2007, erosion
and flooding from the sea can be severe. Several Maine communities had to
be evacuated, as were communities on Long Island and in other places.

If you live in an area that is subject to Nor'easters, you should be prepared to
evacuate if necessary. Even if you're not near the coast, flooding can be
severe and sudden in low-lying areas. Small streams and rivers can rise
suddenly and overflow their banks, so if you live near one, make sure that
it's monitored and be ready to leave at a moment's notice. If your basement
or lower floors are liable to flood, move belongings to higher levels and/or
have a sump pump ready.

Be prepared for power outages with flashlights, canned foods, bottled water
and blankets. Check with the Red Cross or the local authorities for shelters in
your area. If someone in your family has special medical needs that require
electricity, make sure that you let your power company know that, and have
a plan to get them to a shelter if necessary. Nor'easters can last for days and
wind and rain can make it impossible or dangerous to drive, so don't wait
until the storm arrives to make your plans.

Common sense and some preparation will get you safely through stormy
weather. The more you know about threats like Nor'easters, the more you
can prepare to keep yourself and your family safe from harm.

About the author:

Lill Hawkins lives in Maine and writes about family life, home education
and being a WAHM at
Hawkill Acres.  Get the News From Hawkhill Acres:
A mostly humorous look at home schooling, writing and being a WAHM,
whose mantra is "I'm a willow; I can bend."
The Heart of New England
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The Heart of New England
Nor'easters: What Are They?

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