A Complete and Exhaustive Guide to Hurricanes – part four
The rainbands, the eyewall, and of course the eye of the hurricane are its main components. Surface air in a cyclone structure spirals in an anti-clockwise direction and then it starts to move upwards close to the center and flows out through the top in a clockwise direction. At the center of the hurricane is the mysterious and calm eye having a warm core and is cloud-free.
The eye of the hurricane is an area that is relatively calm and can be around 10 to 14 nautical miles wide. The eyewall surrounds the eye and is the innermost convection ring where some of the most severe winds and storms occur. This can have a width of around 10 to 15 nautical miles. The size and intensity of an eyewall has massive significance for the intensity and duration of a hurricane.
The rainbands are bands of storms that can extent as much as 500 nautical miles from the center of the storm. The rainbands serve an important function to move warm ocean water to the middle and upper troposphere and feed the cyclone.
Winds are a good measure of finding out the way to the center of a cyclone. Surface winds in a North Atlantic tropical cyclone will flow in an anticlockwise direction. Another indication to the location of the center of a cyclone is the direction of the swells in the open ocean. A swell to the south west of your vessel would indicate that the center of the hurricane was to the south west when the swell originated. Usually a swell lasts for 6-8 seconds in the North Atlantic; if it lasts for around 9 to 12 seconds then it is a fairly reliable indicator that the swell is because of a tropical system close by.
Clouds are also an indicator that navigators need to consider; to a ship that is anywhere between 500 to 1000 nautical miles from a tropical system the clouds will appear clear and cumulus clouds, if any, won’t have any great depth. At around 300 to 600 nautical miles the cirrus clouds appear as thin wisps that can be seen moving away from the center of the system. At 200 to 400 nautical miles, the rainbands appear, rain showers occur and thick walls of cumulonimbus clouds can be observed hanging very low.
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