For those of us who live on the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida, the nor'easter, if conditions are just right, can combine blizzard and high wind conditions inland, sometimes marooning residents for days as well as heavy inland flooding from a mixture of high tides and heavy rain. On the coast, the threat is destruction of homes and other facilities and heavy coastal erosion from excessive high tides, driven by the continuous heavy winds coming inshore from the northeast. And unlike the fast-moving tornado, the nor'easter can sometimes just stall in place for hours or even days, and with it comes the constant push of water ashore or into bays, sounds and rivers, which causes heavy flooding as it comes in, stays and then goes out. It is not unheard of for such a storm to depart as a wall of water up to eight feet in height forming quickly and easily destroying everything in its path as the wind changes direction and tries to empty the water back into the ocean.
Probably the greatest example of such a storm took place between March 6-9, 1962, a storm which became known as the Great Ash Wednesday Storm. First impacting the southeast coast, it ramped up quickly, then stalled directly of the North Carolina Outer Banks for over two full days, then drifted northward leaving havoc in its wake from South Carolina to Massachusetts. It was determined to be one of the ten greatest storms in the continental United States during the twentieth century. I will write about it more on its anniversary but suffice it to say that it took years to recover and that was in a time of light coastal development. Should a storm of such magnitude happen today, the cost would be in the billions.
Now I'll pray that no such storm forms this season, but it is important for all of us to remember what nature can do at this time of year, for the elements often come together just right to create such an event. So, it's important for us to be aware and pay attention, for the saving of life is the most important thing. Homes can be rebuilt, but life is over when it's over and it's important for each of us to recognize such events for what they are: extremely dangerous. The changing times of nature will soon be at hand, everyone, so just be aware while you continue to live your life to the fullest. It never hurts to be smart and ready. Should something so ferocious hit, we'll be glad we were.