What Are the Parts of a Hurricane?

The parts of a hurricane are called the eye, the eye wall and the rain bands. The eye is at the center of the hurricane and usually measures between 20 to 40 miles. The eye wall surrounds the eye, stretching 5 to 30 miles in width. The rain bands form the spiraling portion of the hurricane and can be dozens or hundreds of miles wide.

The strongest winds and rains occur in the eye wall of a hurricane, while the weakest winds and lightest rainfall occur in the eye. The eye of the hurricane may not contain clouds, and the sky can appear clear and peaceful.

In counter-clockwise moving hurricanes formed in the northern hemisphere, the most active part of the eye wall is to the right of the eye in an area called the right-front quadrant. In addition to having heavier wind and rain, this quadrant is the most likely part to form high seas and storm surges during landfall. When the eye wall contracts, the maximum wind speed increases and a new eye wall can form. As the rain bands spiral out, they form a pinwheel shape. Between the pinwheels, the air may be calm with little wind and rain.