Washington, September 13 : Scientists have come up with explanations for the massive spread out of hurricane Ike in the US, which has been a big meteorological mystery till now.
Hurricane Ike is a super-sized storm with winds howling over vast fetches of water, piling up massive storm surges.
Scientists have wondered why some storms get so big while others stay small, despite having the same hurricane-force winds, the prominent example being Ike.
"This is actually a very important and unresolved question in the science right now," said senior scientist Chris Davis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Though there are a few theories out there, some of which look to the number of cloud clusters around a storm in its early days, nothing solid has been shown to account for why some grow and others don't.
"The mystery is very likely tightly bound to another one of meteorology's tough nuts to crack," Davis told Discovery News. "I think there is an answer that we will come to know when we learn how these cyclones form," he added.
According to Davis, the secret is probably somewhere in their initial size, as well as some crucial points later in the storm's life.
Some things can be gleaned from looking at the history of the largest tropical cyclones - the technical term for these storms.
The largest, for instance, are generally created in the western Pacific Ocean, according to Davis.
This is most likely because the Pacific is home to the largest swath of warm tropical water on Earth, giving storms lots of time, space and energy to grow before hitting land and falling apart.
"It's the biggest (ocean) basin," said Davis. "A tropical cyclone can last a long time in that basin," he added.
In the Atlantic, the largest hurricane on record was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
"Gilbert literally filled the Gulf of Mexico," said World Meteorological Organization weather researcher Randy Cerveny, who works at Arizona State University. "There was a massive loss of life in Mexico," he added.
As with Ike, it was Gilbert's gargantuan storm surge that posed the biggest danger to thousands of miles of coast.
At the time of this account, the National Weather Service was reporting that Ike had tropical storm-force winds swirling 275 miles out from its center, which is much further than in the infamous and catastrophic Hurricane Katrina.