Storm has several different daemon processes. Nimbus that schedules workers, supervisors that launch and kill workers, the log viewer that gives access to logs, and the UI that shows the status of a cluster.
When a worker dies, the supervisor will restart it. If it continuously fails on startup and is unable to heartbeat to Nimbus, Nimbus will reschedule the worker.
The tasks assigned to that machine will time-out and Nimbus will reassign those tasks to other machines.
The Nimbus and Supervisor daemons are designed to be fail-fast (process self-destructs whenever any unexpected situation is encountered) and stateless (all state is kept in Zookeeper or on disk). As described in Setting up a Storm cluster, the Nimbus and Supervisor daemons must be run under supervision using a tool like daemontools or monit. So if the Nimbus or Supervisor daemons die, they restart like nothing happened.
Most notably, no worker processes are affected by the death of Nimbus or the Supervisors. This is in contrast to Hadoop, where if the JobTracker dies, all the running jobs are lost.
If you lose the Nimbus node, the workers will still continue to function. Additionally, supervisors will continue to restart workers if they die. However, without Nimbus, workers won't be reassigned to other machines when necessary (like if you lose a worker machine).
Storm Nimbus is highly available since 1.0.0. More information please refer to Nimbus HA Design document.
Storm provides mechanisms to guarantee data processing even if nodes die or messages are lost. See Guaranteeing message processing for the details.