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Climate History: Nor’easter Ida

Rachel Belanger

Tempestuous, turbulent, violent, and rampant–nor’easters are not to be underestimated. Unlike hurricanes, nor’easters thrive from colder air in the atmosphere, and winds are typically from the northeast region in North America. Nor’easter Ida was a hurricane turned nor’easter that formed over the Caribbean Sea on November 4, 2009, and eventually made landfall on November 10th near Dauphin Island in Mobile County, Alabama. Ida was originally categorized as a Category 2 hurricane when it formed and it quickly moved over to Nicaragua on November 5th. Five days later, the storm made its way to the Gulf of Mexico where it weakened to a tropical storm, winds below 73 mph, and eventually made landfall in Alabama. The remnants of Ida became a powerful nor’easter that caused lots of damage along the east coast of the United States. According to the National Weather Service, Ida was the second latest hurricane on record to develop so late in the season.

As a hurricane, Ida caused extensive damage to the country of Nicaragua. According to the Nation Hurricane Center, around 80% of the schools and houses in Nicaragua were demolished by the storm, affecting the lives of around 6,000 people. However, fortunately, there were no reported deaths in the country. Ida reached an intensity of 105mph on November 8th when it was still over the Gulf of Mexico.

As Ida made landfall in Alabama and moved northeast along the coast, it became a powerful nor’easter that led to heavy rainfall, strong winds, beach erosion, flooding, and dangerously large waves. Before moving north, Ida made sure to leave its mark on the southern U.S. by causing coastal flooding and beach erosion in Alabama and along the Northwest Florida coastline. The greatest rainfall noted was 6.61 inches in Foley, Alabama. Nor’easter Ida produced large waves and heavy rainfall which led to moderate to severe flooding in many different states. The highest flooding was reported along the New Jersey coast with water levels reaching 7 to 8 feet deep. Many areas also reported high levels of beach erosion, with beaches seemingly shrinking as a result of large amounts of beach sediments being washed away by the wind and waves.

Nor’easter Ida had a lasting imprint on the east coast of the U.S. as many areas suffered extensive damage from significant flooding, strong winds, and beach erosion. Ida was unique because not only did it start out as a hurricane and become a nor’easter, but also because of how late in the hurricane season it formed. Nor’easter Ida has gone down in history as a perfect example of just how destructive a nor’easter can be, proving how climate change has such disastrous influences on storms.


  1. “Remembering some of the most notorious November Atlantic hurricanes,”

  2. “Hurricane Ida - November 10, 2009,” National Weather Service.

  3. “Nor’Ida Storm, November 12-13, 2009,” National Weather Service.

  4. “Tropical Cyclone Report,” NOAA.

  5. “Nor’easter causes widespread problems in N.J. before moving out to sea,” N.J.com


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