(FOX40.COM) The historical forecast of Hurricane Hilary making a touchdown in California has some people wondering why tropical storms never happened in the Golden State before.
While hurricanes commonly form in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the storms rarely make their way onto California land. In fact, the usually sunny state hasn’t experienced a tropical storm since Hurricane Norman in 1978. Before that, there was the 1939 Long Beach Tropical Storm and The San Diego Hurricane of 1858.
One reason behind California’s quiet hurricane history is the cold waters offshore that suppress the strength of the storms as they move north of Mexico, according to Scientific American. Water temperatures in the Atlantic, however, are historically warmer which creates environmental conditions more conducive to a hurricane.
“The California Current is an ocean current that brings cold water from the Gulf of Alaska down the coast of California. This keeps our water temperatures down to 55-75 degrees year round,” said FOX40 meteorologist Adan Epstein. “Hurricanes draw their energy from warm water that is at least 80 degrees. They cannot physically maintain their structure and strength when they move over cold water.”
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Another main factor is wind speeds.
“There are trade winds that blow from east to west between the equator the boarder of CA and Mexico (30°). This will steer most storms west into the Pacific. That’s why we rarely ever get tropical cyclones in California,” Epstein said.
There are some widely accepted conditions for hurricane development, according to The National Weather Service. Historically speaking, California rarely has hurricane conditions that includes a mix of warmer water temperatures, close proximity to the equator, heavy wind speeds, tropical waves, and saturated lapse rates
For more information visit www.weather.gov.