In the mid-19th century, sailing vessels with tall masts and built for speed were called "clipper ships." Meteorologists have their own version of the "clipper ship," a type of storm that's fairly common during the winter.

I'm referring to the so-called "Alberta clipper," a fast-moving low-pressure system that's born on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies, in or near the province of Alberta. These often race southeastward following a track that eventually brings them close to our area. But given the dry region that they come from and their fast movement, Alberta clippers usually bring us only a small accumulation, maybe an inch or two at most.

Sometimes when these storms get off the East Coast, they intensify, but by that time it's usually too late for more significant accumulation here. All we get is an increasingly strong northwest wind that brings in lots of cold air behind the storm.

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