Weather for Kids: The steering currents for hurricanes

Weather For Kids

Why do some hurricanes hit the US but others curve to sea?

(WKBN) – As we approach the height of the Atlantic hurricane season in the months of August and September, hurricanes and tropical storms will be making weather news headlines. But oftentimes, hurricanes and tropical storms that form near the coast of Africa don’t ever affect land; they curve out to sea and never bother anyone except the fish of the ocean.

What causes this?

The dominant steering force in the Atlantic Ocean is called the Bermuda High, or the Subtropical Ridge. The strength and position of this feature determines where these storms track.

Many tropical systems form as clusters of thunderstorms over the eastern Atlantic Ocean and move westward. If other atmospheric conditions are right, they intensify and organize into a hurricane. As they move west, they rotate around the edge of the Subtropical Ridge. If the ridge is placed farther to the west, the storms continue on a westward trajectory and take time to turn to the north and have a better chance of hitting the East Coast of the U.S. If the ridge is weaker or farther to the east, the storms often curve out to sea and never affect anyone in the U.S.

As storms close in on the East Coast, cold fronts or areas of low pressure that affect our weather here in Youngstown can also serve as a way to “kick” a storm out to sea and push it east before it affects land, too.

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