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Thread: Why weather so different in NY compared to Seattle/Portland?

  1. #1 Why weather so different in NY compared to Seattle/Portland? 
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    Hi everyone, I was doing some research on weather patterns and was reading up on "temperate regions" - that is, regions between the eq and northern artic circle - like the USA.

    On wikipedia it says that bodies of land close to large bodies of water tend to have quite stable temperature (e.g. florida, california, etc). If so, why is the weather so different in say NY (ie. severe freezing) and Seattle or Portland (where, it does not snow, rain yes, but never severe freezing). All these cities have approximately the same latitude (42N, 47N and 45N respectively) and all are very close to large bodies of water (Atlantic/Pacific).

    I know its a dumb question, but Im just curious.

    Links:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperateness


    Last edited by lespaul; October 20th, 2011 at 12:46 PM.
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  3. #2  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    The (most likely grossly) oversimplified answer is wind direction. Here in The Pacific Northwest the prevailing wind comes from off the Pacific moderating the temperatures. That same wind continues across the continent and by the time it gets to the Atlantic coast, has cooled notably, bringing freezing temperatures to the New York area


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    Comet Dust Collector Moderator
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    Yep, that's pretty much it. This prevailing westerlies give NY more of a continental climate, while the west coast is more of a marine one.
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  5. #4  
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    Hey Guys, thanks so much for this! Thanks!!

    It makes perfect sense, seems the more I learn, the less I know
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  6. #5  
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lespaul View Post
    Hi everyone, I was doing some research on weather patterns and was reading up on "temperate regions" - that is, regions between the eq and northern artic circle - like the USA.

    On wikipedia it says that bodies of land close to large bodies of water tend to have quite stable temperature (e.g. florida, california, etc). If so, why is the weather so different in say NY (ie. severe freezing) and Seattle or Portland (where, it does not snow, rain yes, but never severe freezing).
    I wouldn't say that it never snows or gets well below zero here (I live in Portland). We usually get snow at least once a year, and from time to time temps in the teens. Not often, but it does happen. One of the big headaches we can get in Portland, especially on the east side, is a Silver thaw. We get a spell of well below cold whether and then a moist low pressure system moves in off the ocean. The low pressure draws cold air from the East side of the Cascades down the Columbia gorge. The warm front is pushed up over this cold air and falls as rain as it falls through the cold air, it turns into freezing rain. I've seen the ground coated with 4 in. of ice before the warm front finally pushes out the cold air and things begin to melt.
    "Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their argument.
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    In Seattle it's much the same. Usually the Cascade mountains act as a barrier from continental air masses coming down the Western side of the Rockies. A couple times a winter, we get some spillage usually through the Fraser river valley. That cold air will settle into Puget Sound and produce snow or freezing rain from any overrunning maritime systems that hit the coast. Seattle weather is extremely mild compared to Maine winter, which is where I grew up.
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