Breaking News
More () »

Weather Works: Why weather systems move from west to east

Meteorologist Taylor Stephenson breaks down the science behind storm movement in this week's episode of Weather Works.

MACON, Ga. — Whenever meteorologists track storm systems moving in, it’s noticeable that the western areas get in on the action first.

That’s true for half of the northern hemisphere! This is all thanks to the winds.

Let’s break down prevailing winds. Those are just the direction the winds blow most often, and they change with latitude, or north to south on the globe.

In the northern hemisphere, specifically in the United States, our prevailing winds blow from west to east in conjunction with Earth’s rotation. This causes storms to move in that same direction along the jet stream.

The jet stream is a corridor of very fast moving winds about five to nine miles above the ground. This corridor helps move weather systems around the Earth.

Now, the reason hurricanes travel toward us from east to west is because the prevailing winds blow from east to west in the tropics.

Once a hurricane moves above 30 degrees north, or right around the northern Gulf of Mexico, its direction changes from west to east.

The global winds control a lot of things – from big hurricanes to small weather systems.

That's how your weather works!


Weather Works: Hailstones form during storms with strong updrafts

Weather Works: Can lightning strike twice in the same place?

Weather Works: The ingredients that aid in severe weather

Before You Leave, Check This Out