The storm that battered the Vineyard this week began in the middle of the country as a small snowstorm known as an Alberta Clipper.

Familiar to weather watchers, Alberta Clippers are quick moving storms that originate in Canada, cross into the Ohio Valley and move east.

What made this storm different — broader, slower and much more powerful — was the way it combined with a low-pressure center that formed off the coast of North Carolina. As this center moved up the East Coast, it picked up moisture from the ocean.

Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, said he and other meteorologists had an inkling of the impending storm as early as Friday. This was going to be a far bigger storm than it appeared on the weather maps in front of them.

“This came out of the Midwest, moved from far western North Carolina and reformed off of Cape Hatteras. It underwent rapid intensification,” he said. Long before the storm had formed on Monday, meteorologists were calling it a giant, potentially crippling storm. When it did start moving up the coast, it was destined to hit a large area from western New England all the way to Maine.

Snow started falling on the Vineyard around noon on Monday in a steady northwest breeze with gusts of 20 mph. The barometric pressure fell quickly as night rolled in. Heavy snow and gusting winds came by midnight. The peak of the storm, the blizzard conditions, continued from early Tuesday morning into Tuesday evening.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, barometric pressure reached its lowest point of 29.29 inches at 5:53 a.m. The highest gust of wind recorded there was 61 mph, before the equipment stopped working.

By Tuesday morning, the center of the storm was 160 miles southeast of Nantucket, and moving slowly northward. Though other parts of Massachusetts had heavier snow — up to 36 inches in parts of Hudson, Middlesex and Worcester counties — Mr. Dunham said the wind was most intense in the Cape and Islands area.

“Between the wind and the snow the entire Cape Cod got hammered,” he said. Snowfall on the Cape exceeded two feet, with West Harwich recording a high of 30.5 inches. Hyannis had 27 inches. East Falmouth got 24.8 inches. A ham radio operator in Oak Bluffs reported a total of 27 inches. The National Weather Service Cooperative station in Edgartown recorded 20 inches over two days. Nantucket recorded a foot of snow. “In 40 years of weather observing, each storm is unique,” Mr. Dunham said. “I will remember this one for the vast area where the storm delivered two feet or more of snow. That is pretty unusual.”