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Subject: H6) Are there hurricanes on other planets ?

Contributed by Robert A. Black (HRD) and Sandy Delagdo (NHC)

There are no other planets known to have warm water oceans from which true water cloud hurricanes can form. However, many astronomers and planetary meteorologists believe gas giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn exhibits such storms. The principal candidate is the famous Great Red Spot (GRS) on Jupiter, and the numeous whorls that surround it, where ammonia takes the place of water. The GRS exhibits an anticyclonic circulation at its top, just as tropical cyclones do at the top of the troposphere. On Saturn, a polar storm has been spotted by the Cassini spacecraft measuring up to 1,250 miles in diameter, about 20 time larger than an Earthly hurricane with winds four times stronger. On Mars, a large, cyclonic cloud feature forms every year in the northern hemisphere. It forms in the morning and dissipates by the afternoon. This cloud is likely composed of water/ice and is white in appearance. It doesn't appear to rotate but is about 1000 miles wide with an inner hole or 'eye' about 200 miles across.

Over 3,400 extrasolar planets have been found to date, but no others are confirmed to have convectively driven storms. However, there is every reason to believe such storms exist on extrasolar planets as well.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot (NASA/JPL)

Last updated June 7, 2016

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