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MET MONDAY: The main steering mechanisms for tropical systems

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Over the month of September, we have received rainfall from two tropical systems, Sally and Beta. This has led to a very popular question and that is what goes into the steering of tropical systems?

When it comes to a hurricane, there is something everyone wants to know more than anyone else. Where the hurricane is going?

Every summer, a big upper-level area of high pressure forms in the Atlantic, called the 'Bermuda' high pressure system. Named after the island chain in the middle of the Atlantic.

This high pressure system has a large influence on where tropical systems go. If the high pressure system is weaker, systems tend to recurve back out into the Atlantic and do not impact the any land masses.

However, when the high pressure system is strong, tropical systems follow the clockwise flow of the strong high pressure system and travel towards the United States and or other landmasses like the Caribbean islands.

When storms get to the blue shaded area, they have a couple of possible paths. The storm can either recurve out to sea, possibly impacting Florida and other east coast states. Or the storms can track into the Gulf of Mexico.

If the 'Bermuda' high pressure system builds more westward and remains strong, storms tend to recurve out into the Atlantic and possibly make landfall along the east coast states.

However, if the 'Bermuda' high pressure system remains stronger and builds further southwest, systems will push into the Gulf of Mexico.

The jet stream can also enhance a tropical systems path as well and can drag system back out to sea or drag them into land. It really just depends on the jet streams orientation and where the tropical system is located.

Tropical systems can be extremely hard to forecast, but this is a good idea of how they are steered.

Brandon Lawson

Weekend Meteorologist

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