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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

I Didn't Know That. . .

December 12, 1996

Q: Why do Atlantic hurricanes move from east to west when most other weather systems move from west to east?

A: Weather systems are carried by the prevailing winds, which are created by the interaction of land masses, oceans, sunshine and other factors, according to meteorologist Mark Mulholland of WeatherData Inc. In the United States, the prevailing wind patterns are, indeed, from west to east. But hurricanes are born over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, where the prevailing winds are in the opposite direction. Those winds carry the storms toward Cuba and the United States.

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