The mission of a hurricane: what’s the point of these big storms?


The National Hurricane Center still forecasts Isaias to strengthen into a hurricane again before landfall on South Carolina’s coast Monday night. As we watch it move inland (you can track it below), you may ask yourself why we even have these things.

Hurricanes and tropical storms actually have a mission: to move tropical heat toward the poles in an effort to achieve balance.

Nature doesn’t like things to be out of that ‘balance,’ so virtually everything that happens in the weather is reacting to temperature and moisture being unequal across the planet.

Need some proof?

Watch this animation of Isaias moving north through Thursday and the trailing ‘stream’ of tropical moisture flowing north from the Caribbean toward eastern Canada.

That’s the storm doing its job even after it’s no longer a tropical cyclone; it gets absorbed into that cold front but continues pumping steamy, tropical air northward.

Even though it tries to get a balance, the net effect is more atmospheric movement instead of a real “mix” of hot and cold. The drier, cooler air moving south behind the storm over eastern North America dries out the weather around Alabama and Tennessee through the end of the week (it eventually makes it hotter, too).

Looking for the rest of the forecast? It’s always online at and in the “Daily Forecast” section on Live Alert 19!

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