Hurricanes do type in the Pacific Ocean, simply as they carry out in the Atlantic, yet none of this storms it seems ~ to reach the continental U.S. Why not?

Chris W. Landsea is a researcher in ~ the Atlantic Oceanographic and also Meteorological Laboratory/Hurricane Research department of the national Oceanic and Atmospheric administration (NOAA), situated in Miami, Fla. That replies:

"Hurricanes kind both in the Atlantic basin, come the eastern of the continental U.S. (that is, in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and also the Caribbean Sea), and also in the Northeast Pacific basin, come the west that the U.S. The hurricanes in the Northeast Pacific nearly never struggle the U.S., however, whereas the ones in the Atlantic basin strike the U.S. Mainland simply less 보다 twice a year top top average.

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"There are two key reasons for this disparity. The very first is that hurricanes in the northern hemisphere kind at tropical and also subtropical latitudes and then tend to relocate toward the west-northwest. In the Atlantic, together a motion frequently brings the hurricane into the vicinity that the East coastline of the U.S. In the Northeast Pacific, the very same west-northwest monitor carries hurricanes farther offshore, fine away native the U.S. West Coast.

"The second factor is the distinction in water temperatures follow me the U.S. East and also West coasts. Along the east Coast, the Gulf Stream offers a source of warmth (above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 26.5 degrees Celsius) waters, which helps to preserve the hurricane. Along the West Coast, however, ocean-surface temperatures hardly ever rise above the lower 70s F. (the low 20s C.), even in the center of summer. Such relatively cool temperatures execute not administer enough thermal energy to sustain a hurricane"s strength. Therefore the occasional Northeast Pacific hurricane that does track back toward the U.S. Encounters the cooler waters the the Pacific, i beg your pardon can quickly reduce the storm"s strength."

Kerry Emanuel in the facility for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography in ~ the Massachusetts institute of technology expands top top the details of hurricane behavior:

"Hurricanes practically always form over ocean water warmer than around 80 degrees F. In a belt of usually east-to-west flow called the trade winds. They relocate westward through the trade winds and also drift slowly poleward. Eventually, if they last long enough, they will certainly drift poleward far sufficient to go into the belt the westerly winds the prevails in center latitudes. When this happens, the hurricanes "recurve" towards the east and also thereafter follow courses that are normally both eastward and poleward.

"In the Atlantic region, hurricanes type anywhere indigenous the tropical main Atlantic come the Gulf that Mexico. Those that kind in the main Atlantic and Caribbean region usually begin off moving westward; as soon as they recurve, they may strike the north American mainland. Several of the storms that begin in the Gulf of Mexico may move poleward and eastward right from your inception.

"In the east Pacific region, one has to go all the means down to the central Mexico coast to find water warm sufficient to sustain hurricanes. This warmth water lies fine within the belt of easterly winds, so almost all the storms that kind there move away native the coast, toward the west. By the time those storms recurve, they room usually many thousands of kilometers west that the coastline of phibìc America.

"A couple of storms recurve right next to the coast. Few of these do it as far north as Baja California and can win land through hurricane-force winds. However to do it every the way to the U.S. West Coast, the storms need to traverse a long stretch of ocean water that is far too cold to sustain hurricanes. Occasionally, tropical storms carry out strike coastal southern California. By the moment they do, they have lost their hurricane-force winds, back they may still lug with them an extremely heavy rainfall that can cause extensive flooding.

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"Essentially, the really cold water that upwells off the California coast and also gives seaside California together a cool, benign climate additionally protects the from hurricanes. Real-time maps showing the distribution of the potential intensity of hurricanes clearly show the miscellaneous regions global that can sustain hurricanes.