Breakdown: Bermuda High - what is it & why it impacts hurricanes
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Now that hurricane season is upon us, you may often hear meteorologists talking about the Bermuda high. But what exactly is it? And how does it affect the development of tropical systems and the tracks they take?
The Bermuda high is an area of high pressure that’s located over the Atlantic Ocean. It gets its name due to its close proximity of the Bermuda Islands, and has the ability to influence the movement of tropical systems in the Atlantic basin.
Depending on the time of year and other factors, the Bermuda high can have significant impacts on the track and strength of a tropical system.
High pressure systems, in the northern hemisphere, have a clockwise circulation and this is what helps direct the path of tropical systems and even determine where they make landfall.
On the south side of the high, winds are coming from the east, and this is what has the ability to force tropical systems more west. These easterly winds can take them from the eastern Atlantic to the Caribbean Sea, or even over to the Gulf of Mexico. That means the impacts of the Bermuda high are so significant that it can cause a hurricane to move westward and target Louisiana, move eastward and target the East Coast, or anywhere in between.
When the Bermuda high is shifted to the east of the Bermuda Islands, the island chain is more at risk for tropical impacts as southerly winds to the west of the high force a tropical system to go northward more quickly and toward Bermuda, as opposed to if the high was positioned directly over the islands.
Throughout the summer, the Bermuda high can move around aimlessly, which makes forecasting tropical systems more of a challenge. The time of year, particularly the start or end of summer, can also influence the precise strength and location of the Bermuda high. Later in the season, the Bermuda high tends to relax a bit and change orientation as August and September approach.
Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland, and significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane. Torrential rains from the storm can cause rivers to flood their banks and mudslides to form.
For information on how to prepare for a hurricane and stay safe during a storm, head to www.ready.gov.
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