What _is_ a nor’easter?

what is a noreaster
Many people associate the concept of a nor’easter with loads and loads of snow being dropped on the north easter part of the United States.  In fact, you typically only hear people complaining about nor’easters in the north eastern part of the United States.

The term nor’easter is actually referring to the wind direction of that a storm approaches with.  In the case of a nor’easter, that would be from the north east.  Wind directions are strangely named for where they come from, rather than where they blow to.

The nor’easter has a bit of legend to it because it typically brings serious inclement weather with including loads of precipitation.  This is not surprising if you consider what is to the north east: the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Storms that form over the water tend to contain more moisture due to their proximity to the water.  This moisture is dumped, in the form of rain or snow during the storm thus creating the stuff legends are made of.

The typical weather in Boston (and most US north east) comes from the west.  Due to the prevailing winds of the region.

For more on how nor’easters form consult How Stuff Works.  For more on Prevailing winds, consult the Massachusetts State Secretary

Photography courtesy of: brianbeirne

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