What is a Nor'easter?

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A nor'easter is a storm that mainly affects the northeastern part of the United States. These storms form along the East coast as warm air from over the Atlantic Ocean clashes with arctic cold to the north and west.

A nor'easter gets its name from the northeasterly winds that blow in from the ocean ahead of the storm. Nor'easters can occur at any time throughout the year, but they are most common between the months of September through April, according to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Carl Erickson.

Typically, around three nor'easters impact the U.S. a year, according to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards. Heavy snow and hurricane-force winds can occur on the northwest side of the nor'easter.

Edwards said the main difference between a hurricane and nor'easter is the size of the wind field. According to NOAA, a wind field is the three-dimensional spatial pattern of winds.

"Hurricanes have a narrow field of strong winds with a concentration around the center, whereas a nor'easter's winds are spread out," Edwards said.

For example, a hurricane may only have a 30-mile radius of a strong wind field around the center, while a nor'easter may have a 100-mile radius of a strong wind field from the center.

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