Eye on the Tropics

Let us explain: What is the ‘dirty side’ of a tropical system

ORLANDO, Fla. — LIVE RADAR: Track thunderstorms live here

As we track Laura, there is high confidence on the track and the system entering the Gulf of Mexico. On the other hand, Laura’s intensity forecast is highly uncertain.

So taking into consideration that Laura might struggle if it interacts with the Caribbean mountainous terrain and weaken greatly, there is also the chance that it can survive and strengthen as it enters the Gulf of Mexico if the system remains offshore north of the Caribbean. Now the question would be, how close would it be to Florida? The proximity to Florida can still shift back and forth in the coming days. This would mean that Florida would to the right of the system, also known as the “dirty side.”

The dirty side of the system is often the right side of the storm with respect to direction. For example, if the system is moving to the west, the dirty side is usually to the north of the system. If the storm is moving north, the dirty side would be the right side. But, what’s really ‘dirty’ about this sector? Glad you asked!

A tropical cyclone has 4 quadrants: the bottom right, top right, top left, and bottom left. All sides bring effects and can cause major damage if the system is defined symmetric, but there are quadrants that bring high threats.

En español: Explicamos: ¿Cuál es el “lado sucio” de un sistema tropical?

The Quadrants

The top left quadrant: it’s where the most dangerous due to storm surge occurs. Remember water is the number one reason that people lose their lives during a hurricane.

The bottom left quadrant: It’s the least threatening sector of a storm, but can still be very dangerous.

The bottom right quadrant: winds in the quadrant cause significant damage, it is here where the strongest wind speeds are usually registered.

The top right quadrant: this is the most dangerous area in a cyclone. In this quadrant, we see it all! Storm surge, extreme wind, heavier rain bands that can cause flooding and with the embedded storms that can quickly spin tornadoes (keep in mind that they are not usually the huge tornadoes we would see in the Central Plains of the U.S., and they are often short-lived, but they can still cause significant damage and are equally scary). Usually, there are higher chances of tornado development near the center, within 100 miles.


¡En español! Puerto Rico se verá afectado directamente por Laura, Florida en el ‘lado sucio’ de la tormenta

How to Stay Informed about Laura

We continue to track all the tropical developments and will bring you the latest, live, on Channel 9 Eyewitness News. Click here to watch live, and click here to download the free WFTV weather app to receive instant updates on the systems.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE: What do they mean? Disturbance, depressions, tropical, subtropical storms, hurricanes

Follow our Severe Weather team on Twitter for live updates:

Comments on this article