Q: What is a nordister?
A: Nor’ester is an extratropical cyclone that affects the northeastern United States and the far east of Canada. An extratropical cyclone is a low pressure system that forms outside the tropics and is usually associated with fronts, as opposed to a tropical cyclone. Nor’ister is named for the strong northeasterly winds that blow in the region as the low pressure path travels northeast, slightly east of the North American coast.
Counterclockwise winds that flow around the low pressure system draw in moist sea air from across the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, cold polar air from Canada’s air moves south towards the east coast and meets northbound warmer, wetter air from the Gulf of Mexico. The dynamics of the resulting warm and cold fronts can lead to some of the heaviest snowfalls that occur on the East Coast.
Nor’esters occur frequently between October and April, but are especially dangerous during the winter months when people die due to cold weather due to exposure to cold air and loss of energy due to strong winds, ice and snow. Nor’easters can also cause coastal flooding, coastal erosion and high winds.
Halloween 2011 saw New England’s record snowfall, killing 39 people.