Weather systems move from a westerly to an easterly direction, but hurricanes move across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west. Why?

Dear Tom,
Weather systems move from a westerly to an easterly direction, but hurricanes move across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west. Why?

Francisca Santiago,
Chicago

Dear Francisca
Hurricanes in the the North Atlantic Ocean develop in tropical regions north of the Equator where prevailing winds, surface and aloft, are easterly (blowing from the east to west). These winds are usually light and steer hurricanes slowly westward across the warm tropical ocean. As the storms eventually move northward and out of the tropics, they are influenced by stronger mid-latitude westerlies and generally accelerate northeast or east. One of the most important responsibilities of hurricane forecasters is to ascertain how weather systems across the mainland U.S. interact with and alter a hurricane’s movement.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.