Eye of the storm: what made Hurricane Ian so powerful? • Earth.com

Eye of the storm: what made Hurricane Ian so powerful?

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the eye of Hurricane Ian as the storm approached southwest Florida on September 28, 2022. The photograph was captured three hours before the storm made landfall by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8.

“The eye of a hurricane is a circular zone of fair weather at the storm’s center. It is surrounded by a towering ring of extremely powerful thunderstorms called an eyewall, the part of the hurricane with the strongest winds,” says NASA.

“The swirling clouds along the edges of the eyewall are mesovortices – small-scale rotational features found in hurricanes with unusually strong winds.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, Ian’s maximum sustained winds were 150 miles per hour when the eyewall reached Florida. This is the equivalent of a category 4 storm.

Justin Whitaker is a researcher with NASA’s Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT). The SPoRT team is focused on improving weather forecasts using NASA data. 

“Those breathtaking low-level cloud swirls in Ian’s eye might provide clues into some important processes that affect a hurricane’s intensity,” said Whitaker.

“At SPoRT, we’re studying how these inner-core asymmetries can affect a hurricane’s structure, its potential to intensify, and whether lightning will occur within the storm’s eyewall.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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