Eli5 Why do hurricanes spin?


Eli5 Why do hurricanes spin?

In: 4

Points on the earth closer to the equator (low latitude) are moving faster than higher latitudes. This causes winds to rotate in that direction (counterclockwise in Northern hemisphere and clockwise in Southern hemisphere). This is the Coriolis force. It only operates on large scale winds though, sinks and toilets don’t rotate differently on different sides of the equator….

The earth is a spinning ball. When you spin a ball, a point at the top of the ball has less far to go to reach one rotation, compared to a point on the middle of the ball. The equator is the line going across the middle of the earth, or the ball. So, points lining up with the equator of the earth spin faster than points at the top or bottom of the earth.

If you have an object that is moving upwards or downwards along the earth, then it has to change speeds to match the earth’s rotation. This means that these objects spin.

Since the earth is spinning counterclockwise, in the northern hemisphere objects curve to the right, where in the Southern Hemisphere they curve to the left. To find out more, google the Coriolis effect.