MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: does the north or south poles ever get hurricanes or tornados?

Date: Tue Oct 10 17:58:35 2006
Posted By: Nezette Rydell, Warning Coordination Meteorologist
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1160439241.Es

Hi Anette.
Hurricanes are a warm water phenomena and are born and active only in areas
where sea surface temperatures are 28 degrees Centigrade (82 degrees
Fahrenheit) or warmer.  The spin of the earth on its axis eventually moves
all tropical cyclones northward (southward in the Southern Hemisphere)
toward the poles.  As long as there is warm water to fuel the storm, they
will remain a tropical cyclone.  Some storms make it as far as 40-50
degrees North Latitude in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream (Atlantic) and
Kuroshiro Current (Pacific) before losing their warm core characteristics
and becoming extra-tropical storms.  For more information on hurricanes and
tropical cyclones see the Frequently Asked Questions pages at The National
Hurricane Center at

As for tornadoes, tornadoes can occur anywhere on the planet where the
precise weather conditions come together to support their formation. 
Tornadoes are born in severe thunderstorms.  These thunderstorms need
moisture, atmosphere instability, and a lifting mechanism to form.  While
rare at higher's hard to get the moisture and instability
together at the same time as you go further north...they have been known to
occur as far north as  Alaska (see the news story from the Juneau Times in
1995 at
) and Edmonton, Canada in 1987 (
).  A good on-line reference for tornadoes is available from the Storm
Prediction Center at

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