Weather Facts

What is an Alberta Clipper?

What is an Alberta Clipper? It is a low pressure area that develops usually in the Alberta Province of Canada and it moves rapidly southeastward towards the east coast. The fast movement gives it the name ìclipperî. These storms usually bring snow to the northeastern states, but many times moisture is limited with these systems as they donít have time to tap the Gulf of Mexico for its rich supply of moisture. (The low pressure areas are usually too far to the north) However, every once in a while, these storms intensify rapidly along the east coast and drop heavy amounts of snow in the northeastern states. That is when the weather pattern enables the storms to tap Atlantic moisture. Sometimes, a secondary low pressure area develops off the coast and enhances the precipitation. They usually donít bring significant snow to the Hampton Roads area. However, every once in a while, the Alberta Clippers take a track far enough south dropping some snow in our inland areas. They usually develop when the weather pattern is on the cold side east of the Rocky Mountains and the upper-level winds are blowing out of the northwest.