Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:50 PM GMT on March 27, 2014
The strongest Nor'easter of 2014 blasted Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Wednesday with wind gusts over 100 mph and up to a half meter (19.5") of snow, bringing travel to a standstill and causing power outages that affected about 17,000 customers in Nova Scotia. The mighty storm intensified rapidly on Wednesday afternoon, "bombing" to a central pressure by 2pm EDT of 955 mb--similar to the central pressure of a Category 3 hurricane. The storm's pressure fall of 45 mb in 24 hours is among the greatest on record for a Nor'easter (for comparison, the 1978 Cleveland Superbomb had a pressure drop of 43 millibars in 24 hours, also to 955 mb.) The La Have Bank buoy south of Halifax, Nova Scotia measured a pressure of 957 mb as the center of the storm passed nearby, along with significant wave heights of 29 feet. A wind gust of 129 mph was measured on Wednesday at the Bay of Fundy, and sustained winds of 89 mph with a gust to 115 mph was recorded between 6:30 - 7:30 pm EDT in Wreckhouse, Newfoundland, beating the previous strongest gust of 112 mph set in 2007 (Wreckhouse is named for the terrain-enhanced winds that often cause destruction.) Grand Étangon the Gulf of St Lawrence side of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia recorded top sustained winds of 70 mph, gusting to 102 mph. This location is susceptible to strong "Les Suêtes" winds in this type of setup--"Suêtes" is a dialectal corruption of French "sud-est," or "southeast". These southeasterly winds travel up over Cape Breton and a funneling effect intensifies them as they blow downslope toward the Gulf of St Lawrence. As a result, these gusts are not truly representative of the storm, but rather the storm plus local terrain effects. Environment Canada has a special "Les Suêtes Wind Warning", and issued it for Wednesday's storm.
Figure 1. True-color MODIS satellite image taken at approximately 2pm EDT Wednesday March 26, 2014, of the powerful Nor'easter affecting Canda's Maritime provinces. At the time, the storm had a central pressure of 955 mb, and was generating winds over the water of Category 1 hurricane strength (at least 74 mph.) Image credit: NASA.
Thanks go to TWC's Nick Wiltgen, Stu Ostro, Mike Seidel, and Matt Crowther for some of the stats on this storm.
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