Cape Verde-type hurricane

From Academic Kids

A Cape Verde-type hurricane is a tropical cyclone that develops near the Cape Verde islands, and becomes a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Each season averages about two Cape Verde-type hurricanes, which are usually the most intense storms of the season.



Cape Verde hurricanes start as mesoscale convective complexes or MCC's. These clusters of thunderstorms develop in the Intertropical convergence zone. MCC's typically develop in the African savanna during their wet season and move into the African steppes. The disturbances move off the western coast of Africa and become tropical near the Cape Verde Islands (in August or September).

Cape Verde-type hurricanes can be very intense because they have plenty of room out in the Atlantic Ocean to develop. Some notable Cape Verde-type hurricanes include:

All of these hurricanes were at category four or five on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale at their peak intensity.

Typical tracks

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Cape Verde-type hurricane tracks

A typical Cape Verde hurricane will form as a tropical depression just south of the Cape Verde islands. They normally reach hurricane strength in the mid-Atlantic, but sometimes will strengthen closer to Cape Verde or the Caribbean.

Once it begins approaching North America, a Cape Verde hurricane has several basic tracks.

  • It can continue to the west, and if it is far enough south, it will cross the Lesser Antilles into the Caribbean Sea. From there it will often continue westward into Nicaragua, Honduras, or Belize.
  • A more northerly storm will begin to have its track affected by the high pressure that generally occurs over the eastern Atlantic in late summer. As these storms pass north of the Antilles, their tracks begin to curve to the north. Often this results in the storms making landfall in North or South Carolina. Hurricane Hugo was a typical example. If the storm's track is affected significantly, it will often curve back out to sea, where it becomes extratropical over cooler water.

Note that while these tracks are typical, Cape Verde hurricanes are not bound to follow them and often do not.

Because this type of hurricane takes a near-westward path that starts in the eastern Atlantic, they can avoid the two situations that typically end the life of a tropical cyclone: interaction with land, and movement over cool water. Since they can go for several weeks without having either affect them, Cape Verde-type hurricanes are some of the longest-lived storms. Hurricane Faith, the second longest lasting Atlantic hurricane on record, was a Cape Verde hurricane. It lasted 26 days total and was a hurricane for 13.

See also

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