“Nor’easters may have more impact on the East Coast than any other type of event.” (Zielinski, 2002)
1. Nor’easters Span Thousands of Miles – Nor’easters and other extra-tropical storms can have diameters that reach thousands of miles. This puts vast areas of coastline at risk for damage. Unlike hurricanes which typically span 300 miles, nor’easters often have diameters of 3-4 times the size, impacting much larger areas of coastline. With this increase in diameter, more homes and property become susceptible to damage as the size and potential of a storm intensifies.
2. Nor’easters Hang Around for Days – The forward speed of nor’easters is usually much slower than hurricanes. This means that the storm’s duration is greatly increased. A coastal storm that lingers for days and through multiple tide cycles has the potential to do immense damage. The slower wind speed, though at first glance disarming, is one reason a nor’easter can remain in one area and cause such tremendous destruction. Structures are battered day after day by wind-driven rain as the persistent storms slowly follow their course.
3. Nor’easters Occur Every Year – The Northeast sees one hurricane make landfall every five years, while annually we have 20-40 nor’easters. Beginning in October and ending in April, the nor’easter sea-son runs for seven months. The frequency of nor’easters is much higher than hurricanes and out of the 20-40 annual storms, at least two are severe.
4. Nor’easters Aren’t Taken Seriously Enough – Due to the frequency of nor’easters, it is crucial to prepare for the ferocity of these storms. Despite this, coastal inhabitants do not heed warnings for nor’easters. Nor’easters have the potential to cause massive amounts of damage, however, they are often dismissed as low-risk events. Compounded by a lack of universal rating scales (such as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale), nor’easter data is rarely compiled in a way that demonstrates their ability to generate damage.
5. Nor’easters Cause Billions of Dollars of Damage – Although a hurricane may cause more damage in a single event, the cumulative dam-ages from nor’easters can outweigh hurricanes. While hurricanes rarely make landfall in the Northeast, nor’easters batter New England year after year, causing billions of dollars of damage. Massive amounts of precipitation and storm surge combined with severe winds strike coastal areas throughout the storm. Wind-borne debris compromises structures as windows and entryways are breached and internal pressurization threatens to detach roofs. All of these factors combine to cause immense damage.
Quotes from the experts
“Most importantly, nor’easters have the potential to impact society over a much greater extent than hurricanes and tornadoes, as was the case for the March 1993 Superstorm that essentially shut down the entire East Coast.” (Zielinski, 2002)
“A hurricane can have more impact in a single storm, but collectively, nor’easters have more impact over a long period of time.” (Zielinski, 2002)
“Since they strike more frequently, winter storms cumulatively cause more annual damage to property than hurricanes.” (Connecticut Coastal Hazards,2009)
“What nor’easters don’t achieve in wind-speed as compared to hurricanes, they achieve in duration (up to a week) and size (up to 1000 miles or more in diameter).” (Jacqueline Porter-Clinton, 2009)TM
The majority of coastal storm damage can be avoided with advanced wind mitigation products such as those provided by Storm Solutions Inc.