Storm surge is the abnormal rise in sea level during a storm. It is caused by the storm’s winds pushing water onshore, going higher than the normally predicted tide.
Winter Storm Grayson
JANUARY 2018 - A change in the jetstream in Alaska brought down freezing air from Hudson Bay to the Eastern United States. Meanwhile the Gulf stream carried up warm air. The large temperature difference between the warm air coming from the atlantic and the cold air from the land lead to a large and quick drop of atmospheric air pressure, creating a bomb cyclone, a storm that spins counterclockwise. This formed so close to land, it lead to near record breaking storm surges.
Winter Storm Riley
MARCH 2018 - The second bomb cyclone to hit New England in 2018 brining near record high tides to Massachusetts, second only to Winter Storm Grayson and the blizzard of ‘78, and similarly causing extensive damage and coastal erosion. Riley started in the midwest and underwent bombogenesis off the coast of New England.
Extreme Weather in the Midwest
WINTER 2018-2019 - Early in January 2019, the polar vortex split, bringing extreme cold down into the midwest and eastern United States. It allowed cold air to travel further south while warm summery air surged north over the middle of the nation. The gulf stream brings in warm moist air, feeding into the cycle large amounts of precipitation. The clashing of warm and cold air created extreme weather events including large variability in temperature, heavy snow and flooding.
In general the Midwest and Plains have extreme weather variability due to the big change from elevation of the Rocky Mountains down to plains. The large temperature change (gradient) with warmer air in the south and colder air in the north, mixed with the low pressure air coming from the west off the Rocky Mountains can rapidly intensify cyclones, creating intense storms