Why do hurricanes that begin off the coast of Africa move toward the East Coast of North America?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hurricanes that form off the western coast of Africa are moved by the prevailing wind currents in that part of the world, winds that are known as the Southeast Trade winds. The direction in which winds blow in this area, just south of the Equator, is primarily from east to west but also slightly from the south to the north. The overall direction, then, could be described as moving from the south-southeast point of the compass toward the north-northwest point. If you placed a compass in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean so that the south-southeast point was off the coast of Africa, the Southeast Trade winds would blow hurricanes toward the north-northwest point, which would be in the area of the Caribbean Sea and the eastern coast of North America.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial