We have an Earth-like planet except the tropics around the entire planet are covered with small island chains and archipelagos. No landmasses larger than Cuba appear between 35$^\circ$ N and 35$^\circ$ S. Otherwise, island density on this planet matches the size and spacing of the islands in the Caribbean.

On Earth, we observe that hurricanes can pass over large islands like Puerto Rico and Cuba while maintaining strength. On a planet with no large continents near the equator to change the trajectory of the hurricanes, would the paths of the hurricanes stay in the tropics? If they do stay in the tropics, is there anything to stop them from traveling around the entire planet, picking up energy sufficient to strip vegetation from islands?

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    $\begingroup$ Not worthy of it's own answer, but water depth can play a role here. In the open ocean, there is cold water under the layer of warm water. A hurricane causes a significant amount of churn and can drag cold water up from the depths (warm water is a hurricanes fuel, so bringing cold water up will kill it's own fuel source...slow moving storms over deep water tend to weaken due to this). The waters in the Caribbean are much more shallow and tend not to have the cold water layer to churn up. a deep ocean or a cold current can inhibit a storm from traversing the globe. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Sep 10 '18 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ Your question made me think of the Great Red Spot something similar to which might happen if you took the lack of continents and pushed it to the extreme of lack of "ground". $\endgroup$ – Black Sep 11 '18 at 6:37

The Coriolis Effect will still push any weather system that isn't running dead along the rotational equator, which is every weather system because the rotational equator is a line of no width which nothing can actually be on, further north or south as it gets north or south of said line. Storms will still start in the tropics but their lines will still also run into the higher latitudes just like they do in our world.

With more open water near the equator the tropical oceans will probably be hotter, as will the world on average, (open water has a much lower albedo than land) so a lot more storms will form meaning that the tropical archipelago is not going to be a fun place to live, nor are the tropic facing coasts of any southern/northern continents that may exist at higher latitudes. Hypercanes will be a threat at all times of year.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 Even if you could center on that line heat/entropy/chaos would push you off it. $\endgroup$ – Black Sep 11 '18 at 6:36

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