BLOG: What is a "backdoor cold front"?

You may have heard the term "backdoor cold front" used by myself or any of our other Channel 2 meteorologists, especially during warmer months. Have you ever wondered what they are or how they differ from a "regular" cold front?

Typically cold fronts arrive from the north and northwest as upper level systems usher in colder air from either an Arctic or NW Pacific air mass. 

However, sometimes large high pressure systems to the northeast of us (towards the northeastern coast) will push cooled air to the southwest (like what you see in the picture above). This means the cold front is coming in from the northeast instead of the northwest and this is where the term "backdoor" originates from. It is a front that arrives from the opposite direction or the "backdoor".

These fronts typically usher in cooler air and a nice relief from the hot and humid conditions. This week is a good example of that. Tuesday we will highs in the upper 80s, which is above our average of 85 degrees this time of year. However, Wednesday we will see highs in the upper 70s and low 80s across the area as a backdoor cold front arrives with dry conditions and a relief from the heat and humidity.