The eye of a hurricane is the center of the storm, which is a calm and relatively clear area. It is surrounded by the eyewall, where the most severe weather conditions occur. The eye is typically circular and can range in size from a few miles to more than 20 miles in diameter. It is important to note that the exact location of the eye can change as the hurricane moves. Therefore, it is crucial for meteorologists to accurately track and predict the path of the hurricane to determine where the eye will be.
When you hear the names Katrina, Andrew, Sandy, and Irene, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of friends or family members. However, many people associate these names with some of the most devastating storms to ever hit the United States. We are referring to hurricanes, of course!
Hurricanes are enormous tropical storms that can extend over a distance of 600 miles or more. They can cause immense destruction because they can persist for a week or longer as they slowly move across the ocean. With wind speeds ranging from 75 to over 200 miles per hour, hurricanes often leave behind a trail of severe devastation.
However, there is one part of a hurricane that is quite different. It is known as the eye, and it typically exists in the center of a hurricane. The eye can vary greatly in terms of shape and size.
The eye of a hurricane is often circular or oval in shape. This may be why it is called an eye, as it resembles a human eye to some extent. The size of a hurricane’s eye can range from as small as a couple of miles to over 60 miles wide.
Unlike the violent winds that exist throughout the rest of a hurricane, the eye is mostly calm. The tranquil, light winds within the eye are in stark contrast to the winds that make up the edges of the eye, which are known as the eyewall. The winds in the eyewall are typically the most intense and destructive winds in the entire hurricane.
At times, the eye of a hurricane may be filled with clouds. However, there are also instances where a hurricane’s eye is so clear that the surface of the ocean can be seen in satellite images. If you were standing on the ground in the eye of a hurricane, you might see clear blue skies during the day and stars at night. This visibility in the eye of a hurricane could also explain why it is called the eye.
Scientists still debate the various theories that attempt to explain how hurricanes form. In particular, the formation of the eye and its specific location remain a mystery. What scientists do know is that, unlike the winds that circulate around the eye, the air inside the eye sinks down and becomes warmer.
As the air temperature within the eye increases, the pressure decreases and the air becomes drier. This causes clouds to dissipate, resulting in the clear area we perceive as the eye. Some scientists believe that a force known as the Coriolis force or effect causes winds to deflect away from the center, creating a calm region around which winds begin to rotate with increasing speed.
Although the eye of a hurricane may seem like a relatively calm place, experts caution that you should always stay indoors during a hurricane. Since you never know when the eye will pass, you would not want to be caught in the destructive winds of the eyewall.
Being on the water in the eye of a hurricane is also dangerous. Scientists have observed that the eye of a hurricane can be particularly hazardous at sea. The shifting winds can cause waves to converge from all directions, resulting in monstrous waves that can reach heights of over 100 feet!
Give it a try
Have you gazed directly into the eye of a hurricane in today’s Wonder of the Day? Expand your knowledge about hurricanes by exploring the following activities with a friend or family member:
- Are you captivated by hurricanes? We certainly are! If you enjoy looking at images of massive storms, make sure to visit the Inside the Eye of a Hurricane photo gallery online. You will be able to view astonishing pictures of hurricanes at different stages of development.
- Can you imagine what it would be like to be inside a hurricane? Did you know that there are individuals who have experienced it? Meteorologists and other scientists who study hurricanes sometimes fly aircraft into hurricanes to observe them and gather data in order to learn more about them. Visit What is it like to fly into a hurricane? online to learn more about these intense adventures.
- Remember that time when you were vacationing on a tropical island… only to have your vacation disrupted by the most colossal hurricane in the world’s history? What was your encounter like? What did you witness and feel as the hurricane battered your small island? Utilize your imagination to help you write a thrilling short story about your encounter with a massive hurricane. Share your story with friends and family members!