Asked in Hurricanes Typhoons and Cyclones
How do hurricanes weaken and dissipate?
Hurricanes depend on a continuous supply of moisture from warm ocean water to maintain themselves. If the storm moves over land or cold water it loses this fuel source and weakens. This can also happens of the hurricane moves into a mass of dry air. Additionally, if a hurricane encounters strong wind shear it can be essentially ripped apart.
A tropical cyclone can cease to have tropical characteristics through several different ways. One such way is if it moves over land, thus depriving it of the warm water it needs to power itself, quickly losing strength. Most strong storms lose their strength very rapidly after landfall and become disorganized areas of low pressure within a day or two, or evolve into extratropical cyclones. While there is a chance a tropical cyclone could regenerate if it managed to get back over open warm water, if it remains over mountains for even a short time, weakening will accelerate. Many storm fatalities occur in mountainous terrain, as the dying storm unleashes torrential rainfall, leading to deadly floods and mudslides, similar to those that happened with Hurricane Mitch in 1998. additionally, dissipation can occur if a storm remains in the same area of ocean for too long, mixing the upper 60 metres (200 ft) of water, dropping sea surface temperatures more than 5 °C (9 °F). Without warm surface water, the storm cannot survive.