Where do hurricanes form?

Dateline article| David Murphy|

by David Murphy

Hurricanes form in very warm tropical waters, usually only a few degrees away from the equator. There are two reasons why this location is ideal. First, the water is usually very warm here and hurricanes need warm water and lots of evaporation to get started. Second, the area a few degrees north or south of the equator is just within the region where the earth's rotation can play a roll in sustaining a hurricane. Away from the equator, winds tend to move toward the earth's poles in what can appear as a turning pattern. In other words, wind turns more easily away from the equator. Since hurricanes require a spinning motion, they too, require an area removed from the equator in which to form.

In our part of the world, hurricanes usually form north of the equator in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Lesser Antilles (which include Antigua and Martinique) and the Windward Islands (Barbados). Sometimes, they begin developing closer to the east coast of Africa, before moving toward the U.S.. They also form in the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico, again most often closer to the Equator in the southern portions of these waters. On more rare occasions, hurricanes form farther north near the U.S. Gulf Coast or even off the East U.S. Coast, but these tend to be smaller, weaker storms with shorter lifespans.

Other hurricane formation zones include the Pacific Ocean off Baja California and east of Asia. In the South Pacific, hurricanes form east of Australia. In the Indian Ocean, they form in the vicinity of India and east of Madagascar and the east coast of Africa..

Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.