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What is a Backdoor Cold Front?

Posted at 5:00 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-26 16:24:40-04

COLORADO – Here’s my next item in a series of articles giving viewers insight into those quirky terms we use during our forecasts. When you hear them for the first time you may wonder if the idea is new. If the term was recently ‘invented’, or even if it is a real thing!

Usually, these are terms in use by Meteorologists for decades, yet they’ve only recently become relevant on the News side of the business.

Today’s topic – Backdoor Cold Front

Occasionally, we will use this term. Sometimes, it takes longer to explain than we have time for, so we may skip the explanation. But weather of any kind, typically comes at us from repeated directions. In fact, most weather moves west to east. It can be NW to SE, it can be SW to NE, but there is usually a west to east component, to the movement of weather. (Why that is, is another Weather Why, handled separately!)

Cold fronts come from cold source regions. In other words, Canada. For us, Canada is due north…so most cold fronts come from due north. For New England, Canada is northwest, so that’s where they emanate from.

West to east

In the above case, the front comes from the east…moves west…so the phrase is meant to indicate it is coming in to our “house”, but via the “back door”…not the front. If you hear the phrase, “backdoor ____________”, used during a weather-cast, you can be sure it means that whatever that second word is, it is coming at us from the opposite direction, from usual.

For more articles about weather terminology or phenomena, visit out Weather Science page.