Tracking Hurricane Movements


Hurricanes are huge systems, their movements controlled by large-scale winds and generating enormous energy. Dr. Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center, refers to the path of motion of the hurricane as track. Shedding some light on tracking hurricane movements is the prime focus of this page.


Pushing winds

The hurricanes, which are generally located equator ward of the 20th parallel, are maneuvered westward by the east-to-west winds on the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge, which is a constant high pressure area over the world's oceans. In the tropical North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific oceans, trade winds are responsible for pushing tropical waves westward from the African coast and towards the Caribbean Sea, North America. These eventually lead into the central Pacific ocean before the waves dampen out. These waves are seen as the forerunners to many tropical hurricanes within this region. The Indian Ocean and Western are strongly influenced by the seasonal movement of hurricane in the Inter tropical Convergence Zone and the monsoon trough. Low pressure systems, high pressure systems, warm fronts, and cold fronts are some of the other steering factors behind the movement of hurricanes.


Coriolis Effect


The rotation of Earth's on its axis communicates an acceleration called as the Coriolis effect, to the hurricane movements. This acceleration forces the cyclonic systems to turn towards the poles in the absence of powerful steering currents. The pole ward segment of a tropical hurricane containing easterly winds, is pulled by the Coriolis effect more poleward, while the equator ward portion of the cyclone is pulled slightly towards the equator, by the westerly winds on the equator ward part of the cyclone. This is the reason why the hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere usually turn north while the tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere usually turn south. Thus we can see that the Coriolis effect also initiates cyclonic rotation in the movement of hurricanes.



Getting on with the topic of tracking hurricane movements, when a storm's center crosses the coastline, this is known as landfall. One may experience Storm conditions on the coast and inland many hours before landfall, which occurs when the storm makes a direct hit on the coast.

Multiple storm interaction


When two cyclones or hurricanes move towards one another, their centers will begin moving cyclonically about a point between the two systems. The two vortices will be see attracting each other, and eventually merge together spiraling into the center point. In case of unequal vortices, the larger vortex is seen to dominate the interaction. The smaller vortex is seen orbiting around it. This effect is also known as Fujiwhara effect in the movement of hurricanes.