I am trying to build a world that would have two oceans separated by a narrow sea/strait/passage.

Think of Drake's Passage, but bordered by large land masses from both north and south, like the Mediterranean sea. The planet is mostly earth-like, and the sea is situated relatively close to where southern Europe is on Earth.

Worldbuilding-wise it would make sense for the sea to be prone to storms. Treacherous, impassable, that sort of thing.

However, I want to test the theory. After doing some research, Drake's Passage seems to be stormy not because of its situation between two bodies of water, but because of its proximity to the South Pole.

So, is it enough for the passage to be separating two oceans for it to be prone to waves/storms/etc.? Or do I have to adapt the planet or location of the passage for the storms to happen?

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    $\begingroup$ Drake's passage is not particularly close to the south pole. Cape Horn is at about the same southern latitude as Edinburgh, Copenhagen or Moscow are at northern latitude, and I believe that nobody would say that Edinburgh, Copenhagen or Moscow are close to the north pole. Drake's passage is stormy because it is the only narrowing of the vast expanse of open water occupying the southern part of the southern hemisphere, and therefore it is where the neverending ring of westerly winds is constricted. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 21, 2023 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ What makes straits hard to navigate is often not the weather, but the currents - Gibraltar is a good example for that. There can be a lot of reasons for currents: surface winds, differences in salinity, different sea levels, different resonance conditions for lunar tides. Take a long and winding strait like the Bosporus, and you need a local pilot even nowadays. $\endgroup$
    – ccprog
    Aug 21, 2023 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


Drake's passage is stormy because, due to the lack of landmasses below a certain latitude, there is nothing like a relevant orography which can damp the winds, which are free to blow at full power all around parallels.

This, paired with the local atmospheric circulation, makes it for the stormy character of the strait.

If you want something similar, you have to replicate similar conditions.

A narrow passage between two landmasses might give strong winds due to Venturi effect, but not as strong as in Drake's passage.

  • $\begingroup$ Seems logical. Then if my continents are placed in a north-south orientation, with an unbroken ocean occupying most of the equator, it would make for similar conditions. Although reading up on the Eocene Global Equatorial Current, it seems it would skew the planets climate quite a bit. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2023 at 23:06

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