The Anatomy of a Hurricane

A hurricane is a strong tropical cyclone, which is responsible for the devastation that recently took place within the Florida coast area, as well as in New Orleans. There are seven main parts that contribute to the existence of a hurricane, including the most well known part of the storm, the eye. In this article, we will take a look at additional components, such as the warm core and rainbands.


1) Tropical cyclones make their way around a particular area close to the Earth’s surface. This area consists of low atmospheric pressure and is frequented by the cyclone in a rotating pattern. The pressures recorded from the tropical cyclone center are some of the lowest that appear on the surface of the Earth at sea level. This is called the surface low.


2) One of the characteristics associated with tropical cyclones is called the warm core, which deals with the large amounts of latent heat of condensation  (moist air) that is released in order to fuel the movement of a hurricane. This moist air is carried upwards into the air, in which the water vapor is then condensed. The heat is then distributed vertically and deposited in the center of the storm. This is why the inside of the cyclone possesses warmer temperatures than its surroundings.


3) A group of cirrus clouds is developed by what is referred to as the eyewall thunderstorms, which is often seen as the highest, as well as the coldest clouds connected to the cyclone. These clouds form a shield that is known at the Central Dense Overcast, which is also called CDO.


4) The most common part of a storm that the public is familiar with is called the “eye.” The eye is the part of a strong tropical cyclone characterized by a section of sinking air that can be found within the middle of circulation. The weather located within the eye is typically calm, even though the sea below may present extreme violent characteristics. There are also no clouds that can be found in this area. At the surface of the storm, it is within the eye that the coldest temperatures can be found. The shape of the eye is usually circular. The size of the eye can be as small as 2 miles or as large as 200 miles in diameter. When analyzing weaker cyclones, the central dense overcast will cover the circulation center, which results in an eye of the storm that cannot be seen.


5) The eyewall is the band surrounding the eye of the storm. Associated with this component of a hurricane are the greatest wind speeds. This is where clouds reach their highest level, as well as exhibit the heaviest precipitation levels. The heaviest damage caused by increased wind speed is accomplished when the eyewall of a hurricane passes over stretches of land.


6) Rainbands are bands of showers and thunderstorms, which exhibit spiral patterns toward the center of the storm. Individual rainbands showcase a variety of characteristics, including high gusts of wind and heavy downpours. Between the bands, the weather is actually relatively calm. It is from the rainbands of tropical cyclones that tornadoes are known to develop. There is a type of hurricane that does not display any rainbands. These are referred to as annular hurricanes.


7) The outflow of a hurricane is characterized by the higher levels of a tropical cyclone that displays winds that travel away from the center of the storm. These winds possess what is called an anticyclonic rotation. The winds that appear at the surface are strong in the cyclonic sense, but they weaken the higher that they get. These types of winds are also known to reverse direction on their own. This ability is made possible because of the warm core that is located within the center of the storm.