Asked by: Peter Jenkins, Manchester
Hurricanes form over warm ocean waters, making them relatively uncommon in Europe. Hurricanes born in tropical Atlantic waters are occasionally diverted northwest by the jet stream, but gradually peter out as they hit colder waters. By the time they arrive in Europe they may no longer technically be classified as a hurricane, but can still cause heavy rain and high winds, as seen with ex-hurricane Ophelia in October 2017.
As our climate changes, warmer waters in the North Atlantic could lead to hurricanes retaining their intensity over greater distances, increasing the frequency with which such ‘super storms’ occur in western Europe.