Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


25. African Lightning Stirs U.S. Hurricanes

By Stephen OrnesDecember 21, 2007 6:00 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Intense lightning storms in East Africa are linked to the creation of America’s hurricanes, says a team of Israeli atmospheric scientists. Colin Price and his colleagues at Tel Aviv University studied data from 26 observation stations worldwide, comparing lightning activity to tropical storm formation during the 2005 and 2006 hurricane seasons. In May, they reported that 90 percent of the Atlantic storms followed a period of above-average lightning activity over the Ethiopian Highlands.

The lightning activity accompanying thunderstorms there is so powerful that it disrupts the flow of tropospheric winds that stream westward over Africa. The resulting turbulence creates atmospheric waves—some of which can stretch 1,500 miles—that race across the Sahara and over the Atlantic. “If you know there’s a lot of lightning in East Africa today, there’s nearly a 100 percent chance that one of these waves will develop in a week’s time,” says Price. And if other factors, such as sea surface temperature and wind shear above the Atlantic, are just right, that wave will grow into a hurricane.

Go to the next story: 26. Controversy Over Cervical Cancer Vaccine

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In