Want to ask a question? Click here

Do hurricanes move more quickly northward once they pass Bermuda?

Robb Ellis
StarNews
Robb Ellis

Robb Ellis, meteorologist at WECT and WSFX. (Photo courtesy WECT)

Hurricanes do tend to accelerate as they move into higher latitudes (that is to say, farther north). The reason why consists of two main influences.

The first influence is that of the jet stream and any associated troughs that tend to steer tropical systems as they move north. Winds with these systems can move exceptionally fast in the upper levels of the atmosphere, helping to accelerate the storms as the system gets caught up in the larger flow or the mid-latitudes.

The more complicated part to this acceleration involves the conservation of angular momentum. Because a tropical system has a certain rotational speed, the laws of physics demand that it conserve that momentum. The Earth spins at a certain speed, but as you move to higher latitudes the speed required to make a full revolution is lower. Think of it as the kids on a merry-go-round. If you stand closer to the center of the merry-go-round, your speed is closer to zero. But as you move to the edge of the merry-go-round, your speed is faster. That momentum has to be conserved. The result is that in order to conserve angular momentum as a storm moves north, a resultant acceleration (generally to the east) compensates.

Robb Ellis is a meteorologist with television stations WECT and WSFX in Wilmington.

Related links

When is hurricane season?

How do I prepare for a hurricane?

What are some famous local hurricanes?

User-contributed question by:
Jim O'Connor

Got a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Click here to let us know!


Bookmark and Share

X
Ask a question
X

Ask a question

If you’re looking for answers about living in coastal North Carolina, you’ve come to the right place. If we don’t have the answer to your question, we’ll find out or try to find someone who does. Hey, that’s our job! So, ask your question below and we’ll do our best to find the answer. Once we do, we’ll post it in an appropriate category.





Can we use your name to credit you by name (no e-mail or other contact information) with this question when we post an answer?
Yes
Your question:

Post a comment
X

Talk to us!

Have a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Use this form to let us know. Note that all comments are moderated and must be approved before they are posted, although you may see your own comments the first time you post them.





Your comment: