It’s been 25 years since The Perfect Storm, 5 years since Snowtober, and 4 years since Super Storm Sandy. You might be wondering: Is all of this crazy weather in late October just a coincidence? It’s not! According to Plymouth State University Meteorology Professor Jay Cordeira, in order to produce these storms, “you need to have Nor’easter characteristics that we see in the winter time and those tropical characteristics that are more common in the summer time. Right now in October and November is when you can get a blend of both conditions.”
These particular storms are one in fifty or even one in one hundred year events, but those numbers are just statistics. All that means is the odds of a storm of that magnitude are about a 1 or 2% chance.
The Perfect Storm and Super Storm Sandy were very similar weather systems. The Perfect Storm was Hurricane Grace, which was then absorbed by a Nor’easter. Hurricane Sandy transitioned into a hybrid tropical system/Nor’easter storm. Once the storms lost their tropical characteristics, their wind fields expanded (instead of a tropical storm or hurricane where the strongest winds are within a few miles of the center of low pressure).
Both storms produced damaging wind gusts, heavy rain and devastating coastal flooding. Waves were large during both storms; however, a buoy near Sable Island recorded a wave height of 100 feet during the Perfect Storm — this too, a one hundred year event.
Snowtober was known for its heavy snow. It didn’t have as many tropical characteristics as Sandy or The Perfect Storm, but it did tap into some tropical moisture, which is still plentiful during the fall. Parts of the Northeast recorded nearly 3 feet of snow.