Have you moved to the West coast from the East coast recently and are confused as to why a hurricane is the least of anybody’s worries? Yes, that is quite the culture shock you did not expect. Why is it that a natural calamity so prevalent on the east coast is not talked about on the west coast?
Hurricanes are less common in the Pacific Ocean because the ocean does not have warmer waters, better topography, and higher temperatures. These factors contribute to the building of a hurricane. Moreover, the Pacific Ocean has the Pacific High, preventing hurricanes.
To learn more, continue reading.
Do Hurricanes Form In The Pacific Ocean?
Like other oceans, the Pacific Ocean is also home to the development and strengthening of hurricanes. The Pacific Ocean is the largest and spans a huge difference. The temperatures and topography of the ocean vary a lot.
Depending on the region, hurricanes can form in the Pacific Ocean. The only reason the Pacific Ocean is not as notorious for hurricanes as other oceans are that most hurricanes that form in the Pacific Ocean do not hit land.
To learn more about hurricane formation, watch this video: Explained | How are Cyclones formed | Hurricanes and Cyclones | Curious DNA
How Often Do Hurricanes Occur In The Pacific Ocean?
The exact number of hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean cannot be determined or found. The surveillance for hurricanes and the detection rate are low because hurricanes are weaker and do not cause much damage. The reports show that the Pacific Ocean sees at least 8 hurricanes yearly.
When Do Hurricanes Occur In The Pacific Ocean?
The peak hurricane season in the Pacific Ocean extends from May to November. These months are warmer and aid the formation of hurricanes. The peak months for hurricanes are August and September.
Why Are Hurricanes Less Common In The Pacific Ocean?
Let us look at some reasons which make the Pacific Ocean less vulnerable to hurricanes.
The Climate In The Pacific Ocean
The climate in the Pacific Ocean is generally warm and tropical, although temperatures can vary dramatically depending on location and time of year. The northern Pacific Ocean is usually cooler than the southern Pacific Ocean, and temperatures are more variable in the northern Pacific due to seasonal fluctuations.
In the southern Pacific Ocean, temperatures are more stable, generally ranging between 18-30 °C (64-86 °F) during the year. In the northern Pacific Ocean, temperatures are usually cooler, ranging between 10-20 °C (50-68 °F) during the year.
Temperature Of Water In The Pacific Ocean
According to the criteria that are accepted by the U.S. government, for a hurricane to form, the water temperature needs to be above 26 degrees Celsius or 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature below this will not support the formation of a hurricane. If a hurricane is already occurring, lower temperatures will lead to the weakening of the hurricane.
The average temperature of water in the Pacific Ocean is 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considerably lower than the minimum temperature needed for a hurricane to form. Temperatures in the Pacific Ocean may still reach 26 degrees Celsius, but it is rare.
Presence Of The Pacific High
The Pacific High is an area of high atmospheric pressure located in the northeast Pacific Ocean near the west coast of North America. The Pacific High is part of a larger weather system known as the North Pacific High, which influences the weather across much of the North Pacific Ocean.
It is often known as the “anticyclone” and extends from the northeast of Hawaii to the west of California. The presence of the Pacific High makes it difficult for any storms to form in this specific region of the Pacific Ocean, let alone hurricanes.
Why Is The U.S. West Coast Not Hit By Hurricanes As Often As The East Coast?
The West coast touches the Pacific Ocean, while the East Coast touches the Atlantic. While hurricanes occur in both oceans, the frequency of hurricanes hitting cities is considerably higher on the East Coast than on the West Coast.
When hurricanes form, they are at tropical and subtropical latitudes. As they move, they end up inching toward the northwest direction. The phenomenon of movement is consistent across both oceans. However, the directions make the East coast more susceptible to damage.
The northwest winds in the Atlantic Ocean move the hurricane toward the East Coast. In the Pacific Ocean, the northwest winds move the hurricane away from the coast, farther into the ocean.
This helps prevent damage to the cities, which may also be why the number of hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean is much lower.
Why Are Hurricanes Common In The Atlantic Ocean?
Let us look at two factors that contribute to the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.
As mentioned before, hurricanes require a certain amount of warmth aided by high temperatures to form. In the Atlantic Ocean, the average temperature of the water is 16 degrees higher than in the Pacific. It is known to be warmer and supportive of a temperature that aids the formation of hurricanes.
Warm water in the Atlantic Ocean provides the energy and moisture that fuel hurricanes. As warm, humid air rises from the ocean surface, it cools and condenses, releasing latent heat into the atmosphere.
This heat energizes the storm, causing it to spin faster and increase in intensity. The warm water also serves as a source of moisture for the hurricane, providing it with the water vapor it needs to form clouds and rain.
The Atlantic Ocean’s topography helps to support hurricanes because the warm, shallow waters of the ocean can provide the energy and moisture that hurricanes need to form, strengthen, and maintain their intensity.
The warm waters provide energy to the growing storm, while the shallow waters allow the storm to remain close to the surface, where it can draw in more power. The shape and depth of the ocean floor also play a role, as areas with a steeper slope can help to create and maintain intense storms.
The Pacific Ocean is vast, and its mysteries are unfathomable. We have cracked one of the many mysteries today. This ocean may be a place for much havoc, but hurricanes? No. It does not allow them to take over frequently.