OCT 22, 2018 2:48 PM PDT

Why doesn't Europe get hurricanes?

Why is it that the US gets pummeled with hurricanes every year and Europe hasn't seen one in over fifty years? Even though Europe does get hit with flooding and high winds, they're nothing like the storms that hit the southeastern United States - and that's all because of Europe's geographic location.

Hurricanes usually form off the west coast of Africa, where warm water near the equator and high humidity create columns of rapidly rising, rotating air. Hurricanes are usually propelled on a westward track because of the trade winds. This, combined with the fact that the more time a hurricane has to pick up more and more warm water over a larger distance, means that the Eastern seaboard of the US sits primely in the danger zone. 

 But that's not the whole story. If a hurricane does travel north of its origin point and heads to Europe, it encounters colder waters, which give it less energy to evolve. Because of this, hurricanes that do make it to Europe's shore often weaken by the time of their landfall and are categorized as tropical storms. So does that mean as climate change progresses and sea surface temperatures increase, more hurricanes will hit Europe? Watch the video to find out!

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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