Does the upper right quadrant of a hurricane contain the strongest winds and thunderstorms? Yes, the upper right quadrant of a low pressure system turning counter-clockwise will contain the strongest winds and thunderstorm convection.
However, this is not saying the left side of the storm is free and clear of any hazards. The left side of the eyewall on any tropical system will still contain strong winds, thunderstorms, and the potential for storm surge.
Many people are still of the understanding that you only have to worry about a hurricane where it actually makes landfall and this simply is not true.
In just about every hurricane or cyclone which makes landfall, falling trees and flooding always impacts humans and animals many dozens of miles away from the center of circulation or eyewall on either side. And, the potential for waterspouts and tornadoes occurs anywhere within these systems.
Another misconception about hurricanes is only people and animals living along the coast have to worry about winds, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding.
Again, this is not true. While these systems fuel themselves from warm moist air and water temperatures from the ocean, once they make landfall it can take many hours before the systems degrades to the point where hazards are minimal.
This means for a Category 3 system making landfall and moving at 20 miles an hour, dangerous conditions will occur inland for hundreds of miles.
The key here is preparation. If you prepare correctly, then it won’t matter if you are on the right side of the storm or the left side. There are no preparations which differ for people expected to receive the right side versus the left side.
The same can be said for decisions on evacuations.
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Conditions Within The Right Side Of The Storm
The center of circulation, or the eye, contains a band of deep thunderstorm convection and winds which constitutes the strongest part of the storm.
What’s interesting about hurricanes is the eye is virtually free of any winds or thunderstorms. If you’re standing outside in the eye of a hurricane, it’s likely there will be no winds or rain and you could see the sun or stars.
But directly adjacent to the eye, one will find the strongest part of these systems.
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Because these systems north of the equator spin counter-clockwise, the overall density of winds and thunderstorms will occur on the right side of the storm, and specifically in the upper right quadrant.
And, as we’ve learned time and time again, the initial impact zone from landfall produces a greater potential for deadly storm surge for beaches, cities, and towns located on the right side of the storm compared to other locations.
Although, having said this, please understand places outside the right side still undergo severe weather conditions which can have dangerous implications for humans, animals, and the ecosystems each lives in extending from the initial coastline to hundreds of miles inland.
As someone living along the the coastline from the Atlantic Basin near Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico region near the border of Texas and Mexico, what are your experiences with landfalling hurricanes and the immediate weather conditions?