eli5: why are there no hurricanes in europe?


[edit] yet?

In: 476

Hurricanes in the northern hemisphere travel East-to-West. So for the same reason that California also doesn’t get them as it has a bunch of land blocking the eastern direction, so does Europe.

Hurricanes need to form over very warm ocean water. Looking at a [map of world ocean currents](https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/bTJxE52g51ynZ70qyvDcFBtlabeBeMZd50ORwncaWMhicZD7HKl6Ch3SDl_F5qeiBlLoLXzaFqAoLI9BcPNo6q-zf6o4J9ohysj_sD7SBVSFxh8TQ7XJWe6Ne-_XaEVS-qnMv2Q5fHwGL94O1v5zRkfCN_C8cgpUOHrWSqS9kgVFoRCP), you can see that the areas known to form hurricanes (South-East coast of North America and South-East Asia) lie right in the path of warm ocean currents bringing water directly up from the equator.

Europe on the other hand mostly gets tepid water from the North Atlantic Drift – not enough thermal energy to generate storms of that type. The “hot” water of the gulfstream makes big storms around Cuba and Florida, goes up the east coast of USA, then the “spent” system drifts across the Atlantic to Europe.

Hurricanes only form under certain conditions. Once formed, they can move in any direction. This is why Baja California and the pacific coast of Mexico get hurricanes.

One of the two things hurricanes need to form is heat from warm ocean water. They can’t form if the water is too far north because the water is too cold. They will die out if they go too far north.

The other thing they need is spin from the earth and they don’t get it down by the equator.

As a result, you don’t get hurricanes in the equatorial band or farther north where the water is cold.

The reason you see hurricanes along the east coast and not California is that the Gulf Stream keeps water warmer farther up the coast. The reason you don’t see hurricanes in Europe is that it’s even farther north and colder than people realize.

The reason is twofold. First, trade winds, aka predominant winds, in the north hemisphere tropics move westward, and they switch direction at 30° North of the Equator. Second, it’s the Azores anticiclone, that acts like a barrier, and forces the hurricanes to move further north where the ocean temperature is colder and unable to power the hurricane.

Ireland gets hurricanes. They’re not as intense but they’re bad storms where everything shuts down and people are instructed to stay at home.

The money question is: “is the fact that there are few natural disasterd there, what made development of human culture and technology possible in Europe?”

Hurricane has a very specific definition. Here in Britain we occasionally get something similar, maybe once a decade. They are called “extra tropical cyclones”.

The most famous one was back in 1987, gusted up to 130+ mph and killed over 20 people.


The earth rotates in a way that prevents weather patterns that generate hurricanes from hitting Europe.

Heat = energy

Really cold water doesn’t have as much energy as really warm water.

I think the real question is why South America doesn’t get them. I would expect the South Atlantic to be similarly productive to the North Atlantic. What’s going on there?