Another week, another nor’easter. What’s going on?
First there was the March 2 nor’easter, which brought driving rains and gusts of up to 70 mph, uprooting trees along the way.
Five days later, another such storm dropped “thundersnow” on the region and especially wreaked havoc on Montville, where at one point 97 percent of customers were without power.
March 13 brought the third nor’easter in two weeks, pummeling parts of New London County with up to 18 inches of snow.
And then Wednesday, a storm slated to ramp up after dark was predicted to coat already beleaguered towns with another 4 to 10 inches of snow.
It all begs the question: Why is Connecticut seeing so many nor’easters?
On Wednesday, meteorologist Gary Lessor said a persistent area of cold, high pressure in eastern Canada is to blame.
That area, Lessor explained, essentially blocks milder temperatures from moving to the north. It also means the storms aren’t going across the Great Lakes, up to northern New England or down to the Carolinas as they might otherwise.
“It’s created this perfect zone where these systems are going off the mid-Atlantic and up the northeast coast,” Lessor said, calling the longevity of the pattern “abnormal.”
“Storms typically go in different directions,” he said. “You don’t have storm after storm all coming to the same place.”
The Weather Channel defines nor’easter as “a strong area of low pressure along the East Coast of the United States that typically features winds from the northeast off the Atlantic Ocean.” Nor’easters often come with snow, but don’t have to.
Despite the March beating, Lessor noted that snowfall totals in southeastern Connecticut are “just a little above normal.” He didn’t have exact season totals available, but used Groton as a benchmark and said it typically sees between 23 and 24 inches of snow yearly.
“It’s all within three weeks, as opposed to the entire winter,” Lessor said of the snowfall. “Whether we end up setting a March record at the end of this storm, that might be possible but, all in all, it’s not a record-setting winter snowfall by any stretch.”
Lessor noted that just last month, a different pressure pattern was shipping storms toward the Great Plains and leaving Connecticut with unseasonably high temperatures.
Nobody minded that, he deadpanned.
With the high-pressure spot hanging in place, Lessor cautioned, the state isn’t out of the woods. He’s watching two storms — one that will hit this weekend, and another that should land Tuesday into Wednesday — and believes for now that they’re more likely to bring rain than snow.
Lessor said dynamic systems like the ones the region has been seeing are hard to model day to day. When they’re this far out, and being measured by satellite rather than on-the-ground observation stations, they’re even less accurate.
“There are two opportunities for more snow,” Lessor said. “At this point we’re not calling for either one” to pan out.