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There are a lot of weather terms being thrown around as Atlantic Canada braces for a powerful Nor'easter. Here's what some of them mean.

Atlantic Canada Nor'easter: Eight weather terms you'll be hearing

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 9:31 AM -

In an already brutal winter, the storm approaching Atlantic Canada right now might be the one that's talked about the most.

Officials are already expecting widespread travel delays, and residents are being warned to prepare for outages and closures when a powerful storm grips the region mid-week.

ATLANTIC CANADA: Six things to know about the coming Nor'easter

As coverage intensifies here at The Weather Network, you may start to hear a few weather terms being floated around on air and on our website.

Here are some of them, along with their definitions.


The storm that's set to impact Atlantic Canada is "like a Nor'easter on steroids," says Weather Network meteorologist Matt Grinter.

A Nor'easter is a cyclonic winter storm that occurs off the east coast of North America. They're known to generate a lot of snow and rain, along with powerful waves. Wind, in some cases, can meet or exceed hurricane strength. The name "Nor'easter" is a nod to the northerly winds associated with these systems. 


Sting jets are a complex weather phenomenon, "but in layman's terms, they're essentially an area of strong winds associated with a deepening depression in the atmosphere that can descend to the surface to produce damaging winds," Grinter says.


"Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tide," writes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This is a common characteristic of a Nor'easter.


Wind warnings are nothing new to residents of Atlantic Canada -- but you may be surprised to learn that certain warnings have been developed to target specific regions.

Environment Canada has criteria that must be met before a weather watch or warning is issued in a particular area -- but the winds in Nova Scotia's Inverness County and Wrekchouse, Newfoundland are so strong that they have their own criteria.

"Les Suêtes wind warnings are associated with Inverness County and are issued when sustained winds are at 70 km/h or more with gusts to 90 km/h or more," Grinter says.

"Wreckhouse wind warnings are issued when the Wreckhouse area of the west coast of Newfoundland experiences sustained winds of 80 km/h with gusts to 100 km/h or more."

No wind warnings are currently in effect in Atlantic Canada, but that could change as the system moves.



"This is meteorological locker room talk describing the explosive deepening of a low pressure system where the central low pressure drops more than roughly 24 mb (hPa) in 24 hours (i.e. ‘birth’ of a ‘bomb’)," explains Weather Network Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott.

"Depending on the model you look at, the storm we're currently keeping an eye on is predicted to deepen by 35-50 mb in 24 hours."


"Wind-related impacts will be the greatest effect of this Nor’easter," says Weather Network meteorologist Monica Vaswani. "Models are consistently indicating rapid cyclogensis."

This is, essentially, a deepening of the low pressure system.

Cyclogenesis is defined as the development or strengthening of cyclonic circulation in the atmosphere -- "essentially, it's the genesis of a cyclone," says Weather Network meteorologist Daya Vettese.


A blizzard is defined as a severe snow storm that packs strong winds and low visibility. Environment Canada issues blizzard warnings when winds of 40 km/hr or greater are forecast to reduce visibility 400 metres or less due to blowing snow and/or falling snow for at least 4 hours. In northern parts of the country, a blizzard warning is issued when visibility is expected to be reduced for at least six hours.

TUNE IN FOR LIVE COVERAGE: Chris St. Clair will on location in PEI, Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott and Meteorologist Mark Robinson will be monitoring the storm from Cape Breton and Nathan Coleman will be on location in Halifax.


This storm will bring with it a risk of freezing rain over parts of northern Nova Scotia as warmer air aloft wraps back into the storm system.

"Warm air aloft is a warm air mass above an area of colder air," Grinter says.

"It's usually associated with a warm front overriding cold air ahead of causing mixed precipitation types like freezing rain and ice pellets."

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