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A nor’easter is a type of cyclone – a huge air mass that rotates around a center of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclogenesis is the process by which they form.

The name derives from the direction of the strongest winds. In a nor’easter the (mostly offshore) air mass rotates counterclockwise.

In New England we’re usually in the storm’s northwest quadrant, where winds blow from the northeast to the southwest.

Several different types of storms go by this name.

A classic New England nor’easter  starts as a low-pressure area that forms within 100 miles (160 km) off the shore between North Carolina and Massachusetts.

They are usually accompanied by heavy rain or snow, and can cause severe coastal flooding, coastal erosion, hurricane-force winds, or blizzard conditions.

Driven by converging air masses—the cold polar air mass and the warmer air over the water.

More severe in winter when the difference in temperature between these air masses is greater.

nor'easter Boston Globe New England storm

Image 2

nor'easter by Mirto Art Studios

from Mirto Art Studios



Chapter 20. Weather Patterns_and Severe Storms, Tarbuck and Lutgens

Learning Standards

2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

8.MS-ESS2-5. Interpret basic weather data to identify patterns in air mass interactions and the relationship of those patterns to local weather.

8.MS-ESS2-6. Describe how interactions involving the ocean affect weather and climate on a regional scale, including the influence of the ocean temperature as mediated by
energy input from the Sun and energy loss due to evaporation or redistribution via
ocean currents.

College Board Standards for College Success: Science

Objective ES.1.4 Weather Processes
Students understand that weather is the result of short-term interactions (days) among the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere.

ESM-PE.1.4.1 Predict and justify why weather conditions will change as different types of weather systems pass through a given location.

ESH-PE.1.4.2 Describe, in terms of temperature, pressure and moisture conditions, the formation of severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, hurricanes and thunderstorms.

ESH-PE.1.4.2b Describe how, within storm systems, thermal energy is converted into both mechanical energy (wind) and electrical energy, and link these phenomena to the law of conservation of energy.

Ocean Literacy The Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts of Ocean Sciences: March 2013 and Ocean Literacy Network. The Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) and Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected – Much of the world’s population lives in coastal areas. Coastal regions are susceptible to natural hazards (tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, sea level change, and storm surges).

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