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Name: Cat
Status: student
Age: 16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
where in the world do hurricanes that affect North america form?


Replies:
Cat,

There are three general areas where hurricanes form that affect North America.

The most frequent location is in the Atlantic Ocean, just west of Central Africa. The strong easterly winds that come off of Africa help to destabilize the air sufficiently for convection to occur over the warm tropical Atlantic Ocean. This convection becomes more organized into thunderstorms, supercells (mesocyclones), and then finally into a tropical depression, then a tropical storm, and then a hurricane. The hurricane drifts slowly westward towards the Caribbean and sometimes into the Gulf of Mexico (where landfall is made in Central America or the gulf coast of Mexico or the United States) or it curves northward to hit or miss the eastern coast of the United States.

The next most frequent location for the eastern USA is in the Gulf of Mexico itself. The water in the Gulf is very warm, and under the right conditions can trigger hurricane development.

Another common location for hurricane development is off the northwest coast of South America in the Pacific Ocean. This is especially common during El NIno years when the water temperature in that area is elevated compared to an average year. During our last El Nino period a couple of years ago there were many hurricanes formed in this area. These hurricanes tend to drift north or northwest along the Pacific coast of Mexico and California. They rarely come ashore however and when they do, they tend to weaken quickly and produce little damage.

Dr. Cook


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