View Full Version : etymology: Nor'easter
01-28-2000, 10:03 AM
I live in New Jersey, and very rarely heard this term until about 5-10 years ago. Since then, it has come to refers to certain winter storms, and my guess is that the term is based on the storm's movement in a northeasterly direction.
Does anyone know why this term became popular so suddenly, or what those storms were called in the 80's and earlier? Any comments from people in other areas?
01-28-2000, 10:40 AM
I know that the storms have been called Nor'easters since as far back as the 1960s, and I'm sure the term is much older. The only reason they seem popular "all of a sudden" is that we haven't had many of them lately. Also, the one this week was far more extensive than usual; this sort of storm hits New England often, but rarely the Carolinas.
The term does come from the storm's direction. I believe the winds typically come from the northeast.
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01-28-2000, 10:50 AM
Nor'easter was originally a New England term. (It dates to, at least, the eighteenth century.) Storm systems in that region that sweep in with winds from the Northeast bring the northerly cold as well as the power of the Atlantic (which brings a lot of snow from ocean moisture and threatens the east-facing harbors and makes it dangerous to be in a ship which might be driven onto the shore).
I suspect that the recent spate of naming large storms along the central Atlantic region nor'easters comes from the Weather Channel®, USA Today® and similar media outlets. As general weather became a nationally reported phenomenon, some regional terms have come into national use.
(A similar expansion of a regional term is "lake effect snow.")
01-28-2000, 03:38 PM
It might be noted that the recent storm that raked the Atlantic seaboard was NOT a classic "Nor'easter". The name comes from the wind direction (see, for example, Mirriam-Webster's WWWebster Dictionary at http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary ). There apparently is a known reference as early as 1774. If I understand my meteorology correctly, a classic New England "Nor'easter" is a storm that occurs when a low pressure system is off the coast and the anti-clockwise spin of the air ends up bringing moisture from the warmer south up and around and then down the back side of the low from the NorthEast into New England, where it meets colder air behind the front and snows. When the pressure gradient is severe enough, this would be accompanied by increasing winds.
Anyone know a really good meteorology site that explains terms and weather causes? :)
01-28-2000, 07:19 PM
DSYoungEsq, why do you need a link to a weather site of weather terms? You nailed that one on the head! But if you want, you can try: http://www.uswx.com/us/wx/
"Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore.'"
E A Poe
01-28-2000, 08:22 PM
I live in New Jersey, and very rarely heard this term until about 5-10 years ago.That suprises me. My parents come from New York (Manhattan and Brooklin) and I've heard the tern Nor'easter several times. How long have you lived in New Jersey.
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01-29-2000, 02:58 PM
Thanks, ConMan. :)
The glossary at that site is under construction, but some simple, basic weather terms are explained.
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