West coast hurricanes

While talking to a coworker we came to the agreement that there a lot less hurricanes that strike the west coast then strike the east. Why is this? Are we just not paying close enough attention?

Bad spellers of the world… UNTIE

Because hurricanes generally originate near the Cape Verde Islands (west of Africa) and move eastward. The complete explanation can be found here:


Whoops… of course I meant westward.

I assume you are talking about the west coast of the United States.

The reason that hurricanes rarely do more than bring rain to the U.S. west coast is due to the cold waters off of California. Every year there are some good sized hurricanes that form off the west coast of Mexico, and some of these hit western Mexico quite hard. But by the time a hurricane gets north to California, it is usually in waters that are too cold to support its circulation, and it falls apart. However, sometimes the remains can cause flooding rain.

Also, I remember that there was some concern during the height of the last El Nino that the waters might now be warm enough so that a hurricane or tropical storm survive the trip to San Diego or Los Angeles.

The recent rains in California have been the result of a hurricane (whose name escapes me). However, they were just brief showers that had migrated north from the hurricane, which was down in Mexico.

I do not know if this is true or not but i heard somewhere that in the 1800’s a hurricane did hit in Los Angeles.

Anyway, as someone said the cold waters here make hurricanes fall apart. The waters in the bay where I live, are usually 55 degrees F. I wouldn’t have been too surprised if during the el nino that a hurricane did make it north since the waters seemed to be almost tepid in the bay at one point.

We have been getting storms from the remains of hurricanes and tropical storms from Mexico recently. Just a couple of days ago we had some thundertstorms (a rare event for the coast) that sparked a tire dump fire in Tracy near Sacramento.

Also, two weeks before that we had storms come up from the south that caused a massive thunderstorm that sparked a wildfire to the south that is still burning and only 20% contained(33,000 acres I believe)

Well heck, I always assumed it was because hurricanes and typhoons progress retrograde from the direction of the earth’s rotation and away from the equator, plus or minus temporary fluctuations. Therefore, Pacific storms (typhoons in the Pacific, hurricanes are Atlantic storms, yes?) wreak havoc on the east coast of Asia and do bad things to various Pacific islands, while the west coast of Europe known not of hurricanes; and you never hear of Floridians buckling down because a hurricant off the coast of North Carolina is headed in their direction; and presumably in Australia they come skittering down from the North, spinning in the opposite direction.

Of course I could be wrong…

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Click here to see why Pacific hurricanes rarely hit USA.

IIRC, Southern Hemisphere tropical storms are called cyclones, Northwest Quadrisphere (coined word) storms are hurricanes, and NE Quadrisphere storms are typhoons.

Here’s World-Wide Tropical Cyclone Names.

Well, partly yes, partly no.

In general, the wind direction in the Northern Hemisphere in the latitudes that spawn tropical depressions runs from East to West. However, as they migrate, ‘hurricanes’ also tend to move eventually away from the equator, where the wind flows tend to switch to West to East. Thus, in the Atlantic, a typical early season hurricane starts in the Atlantic as a depression, but often moves eventually northward, into the north Carribean, or the Bahamas, or the Carolinas, or even, as Gert did last week, to Bermuda and eventually Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, etc.

In the Eastern Pacific, the same thing happens. Some of the storms spawned off the West Coast of Mexico and Central America move across the ocean westward, eventually making life hard on places like Hawaii. But others end up moving northward, hitting the West Coast of Mexico, or Baja, or, very rarely, California. For the reason it is rare that CA gets one, see the site in the previous post by AWB.

As for the name ‘hurricane’ it applies to these storms that affect the North American continent. Typhoons are the name used for storms that hit Asia.

I believe the convention is that a Pacific cylonic storm is a hurricane from Hawaii to the Pacific Coast and a typhoon going the other direction.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a hurricane hit Los Angeles once. L.A. has received just about all types of weather at least once or twice. It’s just that they don’t happen very often. There has been snowfall, hail, sleet, hurricanes, and tornadoes (quite a few, although there is a current debate here about how many there have been). They just don’t happen all that often. It’s one of the benefits of living in a mediterranean (use a lower case m) climate.

On a more frequent basis, the weather plays havoc with Californians lives’ than earthquakes do (floods, coastal erosion, dense fog in the Valleys, and such). If a big hurricane were to hit Los Angeles, I doubt the city has the necessary emergency services to prepare for it. The same would apply for a tornado. Salt Lake City’s recent twister is an unfortunate example.

When I lived in Hawaii, the island of Kauai got hit pretty hard by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Then again, that’s not the West Coast.