Hurricanes cannot form near the equator, or so meteorology textbooks maintain. But a storm named Typhoon Vamei upended scientists thinking when it swirled above the equator in the South China Sea near Singapore on December 27, 2001. It formed so close to the equator that its winds howled in both hemispheres.
The Modis satellite image shows Typhoon Vamei at 1.5 degrees North near Singapore on December 27, 2001, with circulation on both sides of the equator. The land areas are the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra to the west of the typhoon, and Borneo to the east.
Satellite Image Credit: CRISP/National University of Singapore
New research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Navys Office of Naval Research reveals the unusual mechanism for the birth of such a storm.
Intense thunderstorms over expanses of warm ocean water roil the atmosphere. Earths rotation spins these storms through the Coriolis Effect, a deflection that results in storms whirling counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
Cheryl Dybas | NSF
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