Hurricane Eyewall Home to Dangerous Winds

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The most dangerous winds of a hurricane occur inside the eyewall. The structure of a hurricane consists of the eye, eyewall and outer rain bands.

Eyewall: Strongest Winds

The eyewall of a hurricane encloses the eye of the hurricane with surrounding thunderstorms. The air located in the eyewall moves faster than any other area, pulling moisture from the ocean water to fuel the thunderstorms and extending outer rain bands. The eyewall's surrounding clouds resemble the appearance of a football stadium.

The winds inside the eyewall of a hurricane move counter-clockwise, while the air above the hurricane moves clockwise. Once the air has reached the center of the hurricane, better known as the eye, the air sinks causing the eye to be cloudless.

Eye: Calm of the Storm

The eye of the hurricane is calm with minimal to no clouds. The eye of a hurricane can extend from 20 to 40 miles of clear skies. The more concentrated the eye of the storm is, the more powerful the storm.

During a hurricane some people mistake the eye of the storm for the end of the storm. Paying attention to local officials and when they warn to leave could elevate any confusion regarding when the storm will be over.

"The officials should tell you when it is safe to go outside after the storm," Kottlowski said.

Another suggestion he makes is to keep a weather radio on hand to listen to changing weather conditions.

"If in doubt about the weather, stay hunkered down and stay inside," Kottlowski said.

Outer Rain Bands: Potential for Tornadoes and Flooding

Rain bands are associated with the outer edges of the hurricane, which can exist a few hundred miles from the center of a hurricane. The right side of the storm usually causes the most amount of storm surge. Tornadoes are most common, once the storm moves onshore, due to friction between the circular motion of the air and the land, according to Kottlowski.

Although all hurricanes are made of the same qualities, "No two storms are alike," Kottlowski said. "Each storm has a different structure."

Story by Staff Writer Molly Cochran

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