Shop Windows to the Universe

We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.
Cross section through a hurricane showing the locations of the eye, eyewall, and rainbands. Arrows show the direction of air movement within the storm. Air spirals upward at the eyewall and sinks in the center of the eye.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NOAA National Weather Service

The Eye of a Hurricane

At the center of a fierce tropical storm, there is a small area where the weather is calm, the sky is clear, and the winds are just light breezes. This area is called the eye of the storm.

As a hurricane strengthens and wind speeds increase, an eye begins to form at the center of the storm. Usually this happens once winds reach about 80 mph. The eye is usually circular when viewed from above, and about 20 to 40 miles is diameter. It is roughly cylinder shape in cross section, extending through the center of the storm like a chimney. Air from above the storm sinks down in the center of the eye.

Surrounding the eye is the eyewall, which is the most violent part of a hurricane. The eyewall is a ring of dense cumulonimbus cloudsthunderstorm clouds. There, the strongest winds in the hurricane are found and warm, moist air is pulled into the storm, rising along the eyewall where it cools and forms more cumulonimbus clouds.

Last modified March 12, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Wind

Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates different pressures in the atmosphere which creates the winds around the globe. Since the Earth spins,...more

Hurricanes (also known as Tropical Cyclones)

As a strong hurricane heads towards the coast, people prepare - boarding up houses, packing the car, and evacuating. These storms can spell disaster for people in hurricane prone areas, so they are taken...more

Cumulonimbus

Cumulonimbus clouds belong to the Clouds with Vertical Growth group. They are generally known as thunderstorm clouds. A cumulonimbus cloud can grow up to 10km high. At this height, high winds will flatten...more

Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are one of the most thrilling and dangerous types of weather phenomena. Over 40,000 thunderstorms occur throughout the world each day. Thunderstorms form when very warm, moist air rises into...more

Saturn's Southern Polar Vortex

Saturn's South Pole is very stormy. It is also surprisingly warm. A huge, hurricane-like storm is centered on the South Pole. Astronomers recently discovered that the pole is also warmer than any other...more

The Eye of a Hurricane

At the center of a fierce tropical storm, there is a small area where the weather is calm, the sky is clear, and the winds are just light breezes. This area is called the eye of the storm. As a hurricane...more

Hurricane Forecasting Uses Climate Data to Predict the Season, and Weather Data to Predict a Storm’s Path

How many hurricanes will form this year? How strong will they be? While no one can say for sure, teams of scientists make predictions each year about the strength of the upcoming hurricane season. To make...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA