General Question

josie's avatar

Why do hurricanes in the Atlantic make a "right hook" as they approach Florida or other Eastern land areas?

Asked by josie (29372points) September 6th, 2017

I assume it has something to do with the rotation of the hurricane, but what is it exactly?

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5 Answers

DominicY's avatar

It has to do with the direction of the wind. Hurricanes that originate near Cape Verde are pushed toward the Caribbean by east-to-west blowing trade-winds, but slightly north due to subtropical ridge. Once they make their way over to the coast of the United States, they get caught up in the Westerlies, causing them to re-curve and move northeast, thus the common path of Atlantic hurricanes.

This map shows the wind directions that explain the movement of the hurricanes.

CWOTUS's avatar

Basically, it’s the Coriolis effect. It’s what makes “storm systems” in the Northern Hemisphere spin counter-clockwise, and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (Mostly, it’s the fact that Northern Hemisphere high pressure areas spin clockwise, leaving the LP areas to spin the opposite of that.). It’s also what makes the Gulf Stream rotate the way it does, too, as well as the North Pacific Gyre.

But with hurricanes, the “movement” of the storm is less predictable, because they follow the low pressure troughs between other systems. Despite how powerful we consider hurricanes to be – and for their size, they sure are! – they are dwarfed in terms of “absolute power” by every single high pressure or low pressure weather system that covers continent-sized swaths of ground. Hurricanes only cover a few hundred square miles, and they are subject to the higher powers contained in “regular” weather systems.

josie's avatar

Good stuff.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think something was coming down from above the Gulf. That is pushing the damn thing right.

But that seems to always be the pattern. They head towards Florida, then turn and skim the East Coast, and usually make landfall in South/North Carolina (when they have this pattern. )

I ignore most of these storms. But this one has my pucker factor up…

JLeslie's avatar

The winds over the ocean cause them to usually curve north as they approach the Caribbean and US, but it doesn’t always happen.

As it gets closer to the US the jet stream across America also plays with it. Ypu probably hear more about the jet stream when you watch the weather during the winter. It’s what brings that cold air down south. The jet stream is out there now, and it’s helping to keep Irma from going across Florida this time, and instead it looks like Irma will go north along the coast.

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