A Nor’easter can be as powerful as a hurricane but forms in cold not warm water. I grew up in Connecticut, where Nor’easters are rightfully feared. Tropical Storm Sandy could merge with a big Arctic cold front next week then move over New York and New England, producing high winds, snow, and flooding – a snor’eastercane.
The normally stoic Hydrometeorological Prediction Center — the National Weather Service’s head data crunchers when it comes to large-scale storm systems — called the potential storm “A POWERHOUSE CAPABLE OF WHIPPING THE ATLANTIC INTO A FRENZY AND CHURNING UP DANGEROUS TIDES.”
When a Nor’easter hits south-facing Long Island and New England shorelines, the most dangerous area is the northeast quadrant, because winds and waves are travelling in the same direction, hence the name.