- It’s rare for snow storms and hurricanes to hit at the same time and even rarer for the storms to be unrelated.
- The north-central United States braced Thursday for strong wind gusts, whiteout conditions and snowfall amounts up to 18 inches.
- The three most active months for hurricanes — August, September and October — are typically too early for significant snowfall in the U.S.
In a rarity for November, people in separate regions of the United States Thursday were battling both tropical storm and blizzard conditions.
As Nicole made landfall over South Florida early Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane, the north-central United States braced for strong wind gusts, whiteout conditions and snowfall amounts up to 18 inches as the 2022-23 season’s first winter storm blew through the region.
“There can be wind gusts of 50 or 60 mph in some cases, resulting in blizzard conditions across particularly North Dakota, the northwestern part of Minnesota and up into parts of southern Canada,” said AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jon Porter.
Nicole left over 300,000 homes and businesses without electricity and dangerous storm surge and flooding conditions threatened Florida’s eastern coast early Thursday. The National Hurricane Center downgraded Nicole to a tropical storm after it hit land.
The weakened storm was still expected to bring significant flooding Thursday and Friday to the southern Appalachian Mountains through the northeastern United States into North Carolina, West Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, according to AccuWeather.
NICOLE LIVE TRACKER:Charting the path of where the storm will hit next
WINTER IS COMING:First blizzard of the season set to drop snow across north-central US
Experts said hurricanes have happened at the same time as winter storms, but not often.
The three most active months for hurricanes — August, September and October — are typically too early for significant snowfall to occur in most parts of the United States, according to Porter.
“That’s why you see that disconnect in why this event is somewhat unusual, to have this simultaneous significant snowstorm across northern Plains and a hurricane landfall with serious impacts all the way up the eastern seaboard,” Porter said.
Here’s a look at occasions where hurricanes and winter storms happened at the same time:
Sandy, the 18th named storm of 2012’s Atlantic hurricane season, was an example of a hurricane that made landfall, moved inland and intersected with cold air, resulting in heavy rain converting to heavy snow, Porter said.
“You had all the damage along the coast, especially in New Jersey and New York, and all the impacts from storm surge,” Porter said. “Then, not far away in the mountains of West Virginia, there was a raging blizzard with over 40 inches of snow accumulating.”
1804 New England Hurricane
Before hurricane naming began, a similar intersection of winter and tropical weather occurred in October 1804, when a hurricane affecting New England crossed paths with cold air, thus converting rain to several inches of snow over the region.
Windsor, Vermont, saw 48 inches of snowfall, according to AccuWeather.
LIVE UPDATES:Powerful Nicole slams storm-weary Florida with high winds, heavy rains, power outages
The occurrence also happened with Ginny in 1963, another October hurricane impacting New England, Porter said.
“We ended up with cold air rushing in behind the storm, and there was snow as far south as parts of northern Massachusetts,” Porter said. “The snow ended up accumulating a couple of feet in the highest elevations of northern Maine.”
Experts: Simultaneous unrelated hurricanes, blizzards uncommon
AccuWeather experts said there weren’t many examples of situations like the one happening with Nicole and the season’s first blizzard, where the two storms are unassociated with each other.
“It is pretty unusual to have a significant snowstorm occurring and a hurricane making landfall at the same time,” Porter said.
One such case involved Hurricane Lili, which made landfall in Cuba on Oct. 18, 1996. At the same time, a storm dropped rain and later heavy snow on the mountains of Virginia.
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Story Credit: usatoday.com