Why are hurricanes unable to form along the equator?


Quick Answer

Hurricanes are unable to form along the equator because of the zero Coriolis Effect at 0 latitude, which is the force required for the spinning motion of these violent storms. One of the necessary environmental conditions for an atmospheric disturbance to become a full-blown hurricane is for the rough weather conditions to occur at least 300 miles away from the equator. The Coriolis Effect, which decreases the farther from the equator, is the apparent force that tends to move rotating objects to the right.

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Full Answer

Hurricanes are vast, tremendous storm systems that originate in tropical regions of the Earth, specifically over the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes are known as "typhoons" in the western Pacific and "cyclones" in the Southern Hemisphere. Hurricanes are characterized by wind speeds surpassing 74 miles per hour, storm surges and violent thunderstorms.

Hurricanes are driven by convective forces, where warm, less dense air rises up and cold, denser air descends. In a low pressure system, the hot, humid air from the tropical waters ascends and rapidly cools down. Rotating winds that spin around a central core, called the "eye," begin to extend outwards to form the "eye wall" of the hurricane. Thunderstorms begins to develop, which further fuel the cyclone. To sustain the spiraling movement of the strengthening hurricane, the force of the Coriolis Effect must be sufficient, which becomes non-existent at the equator. Any developing weather disturbances along the equator do not gain enough traction to become a hurricane.

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