A computer simulation exposes the turbulent anatomy of a Category 2 hurricane.
After weakening from a Category 5 storm over the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Isabel made landfall on September 18, 2003, at North Carolina's Outer Banks with Category 2 status, then skirted up the U.S. coast as a tropical storm. Researchers tracked the storm from the ground, air and space, but observations can't reveal all of a storm's inner workings. So models are used to explore the physical processes associated with storm formation, structure and intensification. Calculations are performed within a virtual cube of the atmosphere, creating a 3D version of the storm. Details revealed could help forecasters more accurately predict the path and intensity of hurricanes. This NASA visualization merges global and regional data into a high-resolution weather model to recreate Hurricane Isabel. Watch the simulated features of the storm, from spinning winds and spiral cloud bands, to a realistic eye-like center.