A car being buried by snow in Massachusetts. The car is in front of a house.

I’ve written before about how I grew up in upstate New York and how much I dislike snow. My wife? She loves it. She, in stark contrast, grew up in sunny Florida—a dream of mine.

The more I think about this storm and the potential it has to bring some not-so-nice weather here as well as in my hometown, the more I keep thinking about the term “nor’easter.” It’s one of those words that if you say it several times in a row it starts sounding more like a garbled bunch of syllables than an actual word.

But according to my dictionary of choice, Merriam-Webster, it is still in fact a word, and its first known use was in 17531. Another interesting fact: the dictionary definition also uses it as a “northeaster”1 which sounds even odder—mainly because having grown up in the Northeast, I’d never actually heard anyone actually use the full term.

A nor’easter, according to the National Weather Service, is much more than a “storm with northeastern winds.”2 These storms are very specific in nature and are to be taken seriously.

What differs them from other winter storms is their origin—the waters of the Atlantic between Georgia and New Jersey, making it possible for these storms to be strong and impactful throughout areas of New York and New England. With northeastern winds and affecting areas in the Northeast, the name is quite fitting. And according to the National Weather Service, these “storms may occur at any time of year but are most frequent and most violent between September and April.”2 With this being the week of St. Patrick’s Day—near the tail-end of the potential for an intense nor’easter—it’s very possible this storm could be a strong one, as we’re seeing in several different forecasts.

All that having been said, we’re really hoping that you take some time to get prepared.

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked and ready to go with non-perishable food items, bottled water, and fresh batteries for flashlights. This time of year, you should probably also add some extra blankets, hats, warm socks, gloves or mittens, and maybe even a scarf or two, just in case the heat or power goes out.

It might be a cold night for some. Use your portable space heaters safely—make sure you have three feet of space around it. And remember that while baking cookies is a fun activity when it’s cold, don’t use the oven to heat your home—it’s not safe.

If you’re in an area that is expecting heavy snow, be careful shoveling. Check on your neighbors regularly. And perhaps the most important tip: make sure you’re heeding the instructions from local authorities, because they will have the most up-to-date information.

As we all work to batten down the hatches to prepare for this storm, we hope that you are staying safe and warm. For some parts of the country, this winter might not have been as cold as past years, but this storm could pack one last punch.


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  1. Merriam-Webster Definition (northeaster):
  2. National Weather Service webpage on “What is a Nor’easter?”: