The anatomy of a hurricane

Hurricanes are serious forces of nature that demand significant attention in the summer months. We hear a number of predictions and forecasts leading up to and during hurricane season, but how much do we actually know about these powerful storms?

A hurricane has an entire lifecycle. They form over tropical waters in areas of high humidity, light winds, and warm sea surface temperatures. It starts off as a tropical depression that forms when thunderstorms start to swirl around a center, with winds that gradually increase in speed. When winds reach over 39 mph it’s then known as a tropical storm, while hurricanes have winds whipping over 74 mph. Generally, a hurricane weakens after making landfall, but that’s not to say it can’t do some serious damage when it gets there.

So what’s inside an actual hurricane? The infographic below shows the cross-section of one. At the very center you have the eye, which is a relatively calm and clear area that spans 20 to 40 feet in diameter. The eye wall that immediately surrounds the eye is made up of dense clouds with the strongest winds in the storm. Then you have a number of thunderstorms that form rings around the eye wall, which are known as rainbands. These can be anywhere from a few miles to tens of miles wide and 50 to 300 miles across. Finally, like a big blanket keeping the whole hurricane under wrap, there is a dense cloud shield that sits on the top.

So now that you know the anatomy of a hurricane, at least you know what you’re up against. Few events on Earth rival the sheer power of these vicious storms. Make sure that your family and your home are prepared for hurricane season – it’s better to be safe than sorry.