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What Are The Similarities And Differences Between A Nor’easter Storm And Hurricane?

In this article, we’re going to discuss all the main differences and similarities between a low pressure extratropical nor’easter and tropical hurricane.

At the very bottom, we encourage readers and people living across the East Coast of America to discuss the data contained in this article.

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Both storms are low pressure systems which turn counter-clockwise north of the equator, have a center of circulation, and impact the Eastern US and western Atlantic with strong winds, heavy rain, storm surge flooding, and other hazardous weather conditions which can cause widespread damage, electrical outages, and major traffic conditions.

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Both can cause extensive damage and spawn tornadoes and waterspouts.

Both create flooding, beach erosion, downed trees, home and structure damage, and cause electrical outages.

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Both systems are guided by the jet stream, Bermuda high, and prevailing winds.

Both can produce life-threatening conditions and impact mariners and sea life ecosystems.

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Nor’easter Versus Hurricane Dynamics


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While a nor’easter has a center of circulation rotating counter-clockwise, the center is rarely enclosed like you see with the eye of a hurricane.

A nor’easter impacts the entire East Coast from Florida to Maine, while formed hurricanes only impact states Virginia southward. Although, the remnants of tropical systems do spread out after falling apart creating dangerous conditions for the Northeast.

Tropical systems are usually formed in the summer and late fall months and feed off warm moist air while extratropical systems form between November and April and feed off moist cold air.

Tropical systems impact the Gulf of Mexico while extratropical systems only provide conditions for the East Coast.

Extratropical systems are not nearly as dependent on water, thus can impact regions well inland of the eastern seaboard.

Both systems produce precipitation, but only extratropical systems create snow, sleet, and ice.

While both produce significant winds, a tropical system has a better chance of creating higher category winds.

Extratropical systems are rarely investigated using NOAA aircraft while tropical systems are.

CURRENT: Active U.S. Systems In The United States

Cold Versus Warm Characteristics And Location

Nor’easters are often called cold-core storms, while hurricanes and tropical storms are called warm-core storms.

The main difference here is that a hurricane needs warm moist air and water to form and maintain it’s low pressure characteristics while a nor’easter thrives off cold air and is not dependent on water which allows the later to hit the entire Eastern seaboard.

East Coast Low Pressure Discussions

Using the form at the bottom, talk with us about the discussions located below.

As a East Coast resident, tell us your thoughts on the main similarities and differences between these two meteorological events as it relates to damage, winds, and impacts on humans, animals, and infrastructure.

Do you believe climate change and global warming is having an impact on the formation and strength of these two meteorological events?

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Does climate change and global warming have the opportunity to change the location and time of year both of these storms form and cause their weather conditions?

Are preparations and planning different for these two systems?

How is the snow, ice, and sleet created from extratropical systems different than when these precipitation events are created from normal weather pattern and storms?

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Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

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