Central dense overcast

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Tropical Storm Ana (2009) with its small CDO TD2 aug 12 2009 1335Z.jpg
Tropical Storm Ana (2009) with its small CDO

The central dense overcast, or CDO, of a tropical cyclone or strong subtropical cyclone is the large central area of thunderstorms surrounding its circulation center, caused by the formation of its eyewall. It can be round, angular, oval, or irregular in shape. This feature shows up in tropical cyclones of tropical storm or hurricane strength. How far the center is embedded within the CDO, and the temperature difference between the cloud tops within the CDO and the cyclone's eye, can help determine a tropical cyclone's intensity. Locating the center within the CDO can be a problem for strong tropical storms and with systems of minimal hurricane strength as its location can be obscured by the CDO's high cloud canopy. This center location problem can be resolved through the use of microwave satellite imagery.

Tropical cyclone Rapidly rotating storm system

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".

Subtropical cyclone

A subtropical cyclone is a weather system that has some characteristics of a tropical and an extratropical cyclone.

Thunderstorm type of weather

A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm or a lightning storm, is a storm characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere, known as thunder. Relatively weak thunderstorms are sometimes called thundershowers. Thunderstorms occur in a type of cloud known as a cumulonimbus. They are usually accompanied by strong winds, and often produce heavy rain and sometimes snow, sleet, or hail, but some thunderstorms produce little precipitation or no precipitation at all. Thunderstorms may line up in a series or become a rainband, known as a squall line. Strong or severe thunderstorms include some of the most dangerous weather phenomena, including large hail, strong winds, and tornadoes. Some of the most persistent severe thunderstorms, known as supercells, rotate as do cyclones. While most thunderstorms move with the mean wind flow through the layer of the troposphere that they occupy, vertical wind shear sometimes causes a deviation in their course at a right angle to the wind shear direction.


After a cyclone reaches hurricane intensity, an eye appears at the center of the CDO, defining its center of low pressure and its cyclonic wind field. Tropical cyclones with changing intensity have more lightning within their CDO than steady state storms. Tracking cloud features within the CDO, using frequently updated satellite imagery, can also be used to determine its intensity. The highest maximum sustained winds within a tropical cyclone, as well as its heaviest rainfall, are usually located under the coldest cloud tops in the CDO.

Cyclone large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low pressure

In meteorology, a cyclone is a large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclones are characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are polar vortices and extratropical cyclones of the largest scale. Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones also lie within the synoptic scale. Mesocyclones, tornadoes and dust devils lie within smaller mesoscale. Upper level cyclones can exist without the presence of a surface low, and can pinch off from the base of the tropical upper tropospheric trough during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones have also been seen on extraterrestrial planets, such as Mars and Neptune. Cyclogenesis is the process of cyclone formation and intensification. Extratropical cyclones begin as waves in large regions of enhanced mid-latitude temperature contrasts called baroclinic zones. These zones contract and form weather fronts as the cyclonic circulation closes and intensifies. Later in their life cycle, extratropical cyclones occlude as cold air masses undercut the warmer air and become cold core systems. A cyclone's track is guided over the course of its 2 to 6 day life cycle by the steering flow of the subtropical jet stream.

Eye (cyclone) region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye and can be as much as 15 percent lower than the pressure outside the storm.

In systems theory, a system or a process is in a steady state if the variables which define the behavior of the system or the process are unchanging in time. In continuous time, this means that for those properties p of the system, the partial derivative with respect to time is zero and remains so:


Southern hemisphere tropical cyclone Winston with a large CDO surrounding its eye Winston 2016-02-12 1200Z.png
Southern hemisphere tropical cyclone Winston with a large CDO surrounding its eye

It is a large region of thunderstorms surrounding the center of stronger tropical and subtropical cyclones which shows up brightly (with cold cloud tops) on satellite imagery. [1] [2] [3] The CDO forms due to the development of an eyewall within a tropical cyclone. [4] Its shape can be round, oval, angular, or irregular. [5] Its development can be preceded by a narrow, dense, C-shaped convective band. Early in its development, the CDO is often angular or oval in shape, which rounds out, increases in size, and appears more smooth as a tropical cyclone intensifies. [6] Rounder CDO shapes occur in environments with low levels of vertical wind shear. [2]

Satellite imagery imagery of the Earth or another astronomical object taken from an artificial satellite

Satellite imagery are images of Earth or other planets collected by imaging satellites operated by governments and businesses around the world. Satellite imaging companies sell images by licensing them to governments and businesses such as Apple Maps and Google Maps.


A rainband is a cloud and precipitation structure associated with an area of rainfall which is significantly elongated. Rainbands can be stratiform or convective, and are generated by differences in temperature. When noted on weather radar imagery, this precipitation elongation is referred to as banded structure. Rainbands within tropical cyclones are curved in orientation. Tropical cyclone rainbands contain showers and thunderstorms that, together with the eyewall and the eye, constitute a hurricane or tropical storm. The extent of rainbands around a tropical cyclone can help determine the cyclone's intensity.

Wind shear

Wind shear, sometimes referred to as wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed or direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Atmospheric wind shear is normally described as either vertical or horizontal wind shear. Vertical wind shear is a change in wind speed or direction with change in altitude. Horizontal wind shear is a change in wind speed with change in lateral position for a given altitude.

The strongest winds within tropical cyclones tend to be located under the deepest convection within the CDO, which is seen on satellite imagery as the coldest cloud tops. [7] The radius of maximum wind is usually collocated with the coldest cloud tops within the CDO, [7] which is also the area where a tropical cyclone's rainfall reaches its maximum intensity. [8] For mature tropical cyclones that are steady state, the CDO contains nearly no lightning activity, though lightning is more common within weaker tropical cyclones and for systems fluctuating in intensity. [9]

Convection movement of groups of molecules within fluids such as liquids or gases, and within rheids; takes place through advection, diffusion or both

Convection is the heat transfer due to the bulk movement of molecules within fluids such as gases and liquids, including molten rock (rheid). Convection includes sub-mechanisms of advection, and diffusion.

Radius of maximum wind

The radius of maximum wind (RMW) is the distance between the center of a cyclone and its band of strongest winds. It is a parameter in atmospheric dynamics and tropical cyclone forecasting. The highest rainfall rates occur near the RMW of tropical cyclones. The extent of a cyclone's storm surge and its maximum potential intensity can be determined using the RMW. As maximum sustained winds increase, the RMW decreases. Recently, RMW has been used in descriptions of tornadoes. When designing buildings to prevent against failure from atmospheric pressure change, RMW can be used in the calculations.

Lightning atmospheric discharge of electricity

Lightning is a violent and sudden electrostatic discharge where two electrically charged regions in the atmosphere temporarily equalize themselves, usually during a thunderstorm.


The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of the CDO of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms surrounding its center of circulation. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye, and can be as much as 15% lower than the atmospheric pressure outside the storm. [10] In weaker tropical cyclones, the eye is less well-defined, and can be covered by high cloudiness caused by cirrus cloud outflow from the surrounding central dense overcast. [10]

Weather Short-term state of the atmosphere

Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the lowest level of the atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Storm any disturbed state of an astronomical bodys atmosphere

A storm is any disturbed state of an environment or in an astronomical body's atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather. It may be marked by significant disruptions to normal conditions such as strong wind, tornadoes, hail, thunder and lightning, heavy precipitation, heavy freezing rain, strong winds, or wind transporting some substance through the atmosphere as in a dust storm, blizzard, sandstorm, etc.

Diameter straight line segment that passes through the center of a circle

In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints lie on the circle. It can also be defined as the longest chord of the circle. Both definitions are also valid for the diameter of a sphere.

Use as a tropical cyclone strength indicator

Common developmental patterns seen during tropical cyclone development, and their Dvorak-assigned intensities Dvorak1984DevelopmentalPatterns.png
Common developmental patterns seen during tropical cyclone development, and their Dvorak-assigned intensities

Within the Dvorak satellite strength estimate for tropical cyclones, there are several visual patterns that a cyclone may take on which define the upper and lower bounds on its intensity. The central dense overcast (CDO) pattern is one of those patterns. The central dense overcast utilizes the size of the CDO. The CDO pattern intensities start at T2.5, equivalent to minimal tropical storm intensity, 40 mph (64 km/h). The shape of the central dense overcast is also considered. The farther the center is tucked into the CDO, the stronger it is deemed. [5] Banding features can be utilized to objectively determine the tropical cyclone's center, using a ten degree logarithmic spiral. [11] Using the 85–92 GHz channels of polar-orbiting microwave satellite imagery can definitively locate the center within the CDO. [12]

Pattern recognition branch of machine learning

Pattern recognition is the automated recognition of patterns and regularities in data. Pattern recognition is closely related to artificial intelligence and machine learning, together with applications such as data mining and knowledge discovery in databases (KDD), and is often used interchangeably with these terms. However, these are distinguished: machine learning is one approach to pattern recognition, while other approaches include hand-crafted rules or heuristics; and pattern recognition is one approach to artificial intelligence, while other approaches include symbolic artificial intelligence. A modern definition of pattern recognition is:

The field of pattern recognition is concerned with the automatic discovery of regularities in data through the use of computer algorithms and with the use of these regularities to take actions such as classifying the data into different categories.

Logarithmic spiral

A logarithmic spiral, equiangular spiral or growth spiral is a self-similar spiral curve which often appears in nature. The logarithmic spiral was first described by Descartes and later extensively investigated by Jacob Bernoulli, who called it Spira mirabilis, "the marvelous spiral".

Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained winds between 65 mph (105 km/h) and 100 mph (160 km/h) can have their center of circulations obscured by cloudiness within visible and infrared satellite imagery, which makes diagnosis of their intensity a challenge. [13] Winds within tropical cyclones can also be estimated by tracking features within the CDO using rapid scan geostationary satellite imagery, whose pictures are taken minutes apart rather than every half-hour. [14]

Related Research Articles

Hurricane Catarina South Atlantic tropical cyclone of March 2004

Hurricane Catarina was an extremely rare South Atlantic tropical cyclone that hit Southern Brazil in late March 2004. The storm developed out of a stationary cold-core upper-level trough on March 12. Almost a week later, on March 19, a disturbance developed along the trough and traveled towards the east-southeast until March 22 when a ridge stopped the forward motion of the disturbance. The disturbance was in an unusually favorable environment with a little bit below-average wind shear and above-average sea surface temperatures. The combination of the two led to a slow transition from an extratropical cyclone to a subtropical cyclone by March 24. The storm continued to obtain tropical characteristics and became a tropical storm the next day while the winds steadily increased. The storm attained wind speeds of 75 mph (120 km/h)—equivalent to a low-end Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale—on March 26. At this time it was unofficially named Catarina and was also the first hurricane-strength tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Unusually favorable conditions persisted and Catarina continued to intensify and was estimated to have peaked with winds of 100 mph (155 km/h) on March 28. The center of the storm made landfall later that day at the time between the cities of Passo de Torres and Balneário Gaivota, Santa Catarina. Catarina rapidly weakened upon landfall and dissipated on the next day.

Annular tropical cyclone

An annular tropical cyclone is a tropical cyclone that features a normal to large, symmetric eye surrounded by a thick and uniform ring of intense convection, often having a relative lack of discrete rainbands, and bearing a symmetric appearance in general. As a result, the appearance of an annular tropical cyclone can be referred to as akin to a tire or doughnut. Annular characteristics can be attained as tropical cyclones intensify; however, outside the processes that drive the transition from asymmetric systems to annular systems and the abnormal resistance to negative environmental factors found in storms with annular features, annular tropical cyclones behave similarly to asymmetric storms. Most research related to annular tropical cyclones is limited to satellite imagery and aircraft reconnaissance as the conditions thought to give rise to annular characteristics normally occur over water well removed from landmasses where surface observations are possible.

Dvorak technique

The Dvorak technique is a widely used system to estimate tropical cyclone intensity based solely on visible and infrared satellite images. Within the Dvorak satellite strength estimate for tropical cyclones, there are several visual patterns that a cyclone may take on which define the upper and lower bounds on its intensity. The primary patterns used are curved band pattern (T1.0-T4.5), shear pattern (T1.5–T3.5), central dense overcast (CDO) pattern (T2.5–T5.0), central cold cover (CCC) pattern, banding eye pattern (T4.0–T4.5), and eye pattern (T4.5–T8.0).

Extratropical cyclone type of cyclone

Extratropical cyclones, sometimes called mid-latitude cyclones or wave cyclones, are low-pressure areas which, along with the anticyclones of high-pressure areas, drive the weather over much of the Earth. Extratropical cyclones are capable of producing anything from cloudiness and mild showers to heavy gales, thunderstorms, blizzards, and tornadoes. These types of cyclones are defined as large scale (synoptic) low pressure weather systems that occur in the middle latitudes of the Earth. In contrast with tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones produce rapid changes in temperature and dew point along broad lines, called weather fronts, about the center of the cyclone.

Hurricane Adolph Category 4 Pacific hurricane in 2001

Hurricane Adolph of the 2001 Pacific hurricane season was the first and one of only two East Pacific hurricanes in May to reach Category 4 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale since record keeping began in the East Pacific. Adolph was the first depression of the season, forming on May 25; it became a hurricane three days later. After rapidly intensifying, Adolph became the most powerful storm in terms of maximum sustained winds this season, along with Hurricane Juliette. The storm briefly threatened land before dissipating on June 1, after moving over colder waters.

Meteorological history of Hurricane Wilma

Hurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin on record, with an atmospheric pressure of 882 hPa. Wilma's destructive journey began in the second week of October 2005. A large area of disturbed weather developed across much of the Caribbean Sea and gradually organized to the southeast of Jamaica. By late on October 15, the system was sufficiently organized for the National Hurricane Center to designate it as Tropical Depression Twenty-Four.

Hurricane Guillermo (1997) Category 5 Pacific hurricane in 1997

Hurricane Guillermo was the ninth-most intense Pacific hurricane on record, attaining peak winds of 160 mph (260 km/h) and a barometric pressure of 919 hPa (27.14 inHg). Forming out of a tropical wave on July 30, 1997, roughly 345 mi (555 km) south of Salina Cruz, Mexico, Guillermo tracked in a steady west-northwestward direction while intensifying. The system reached hurricane status by August 1 before undergoing rapid intensification the following day. At the end of this phase, the storm attained its peak intensity as a powerful Category 5 hurricane. The storm began to weaken during the afternoon of August 5 and was downgraded to a tropical storm on August 8. Once entering the Central Pacific Hurricane Center's area of responsibility, Guillermo briefly weakened to a tropical depression before re-attaining tropical storm status. On August 15, the storm reached an unusually high latitude of 41.8°N before transitioning into an extratropical cyclone. The remnants persisted for more than a week as they tracked towards the northeast and later south and east before being absorbed by a larger extratropical system off the coast of California on August 24.

1975 Pacific Northwest hurricane Category 1 Pacific hurricane in 1975

The 1975 Pacific Northwest hurricane was an unusual Pacific tropical cyclone that attained hurricane status farther north than any other Pacific hurricane. It was officially unnamed, with the cargo ship Transcolorado providing vital meteorological data in assessing the storm. The twelfth tropical cyclone of the 1975 Pacific hurricane season, it developed from a cold-core upper-level low merging with the remnants of a tropical cyclone on August 31, well to the northeast of Hawaii. Convection increased as the circulation became better defined, and by early on September 2 it became a tropical storm. Turning to the northeast through an area of warm water temperatures, the storm quickly strengthened, and, after developing an eye, it attained hurricane status late on September 3, while located about 1,200 miles (1,950 km) south of Alaska. After maintaining peak winds for about 18 hours, the storm rapidly weakened, as it interacted with an approaching cold front. Early on September 5, it lost its identity near the coast of Alaska.

Hurricane Carlotta (2000) Category 4 Pacific hurricane in 2000

Hurricane Carlotta was the most powerful hurricane of the 2000 Pacific hurricane season. The third tropical cyclone of the season, Carlotta developed from a tropical wave on June 18 about 270 miles (470 km) southeast off the coast of Mexico. With favorable conditions for development, it strengthened steadily at first, followed by a period of rapid deepening to peak winds of 155 mph (250 km/h) on June 22. Cooler waters caused Carlotta to gradually weaken, and on June 25 it degenerated into a remnant area of low pressure while located about 260 miles (420 km) west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas.

Hurricane Daniel (2006)

Hurricane Daniel was the second strongest hurricane of the 2006 Pacific hurricane season. The fourth named storm of the season, Daniel originated on July 16 from a tropical wave off the coast of Mexico. It tracked westward, intensifying steadily to reach peak winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) on July 22. At the time, the characteristics of the cyclone resembled those of an annular hurricane. Daniel gradually weakened as it entered an area of cooler water temperatures and increased wind shear, and after crossing into the Central Pacific Ocean, it quickly degenerated into a remnant low-pressure area on July 26, before dissipating two days later.

Meteorological history of Hurricane Ivan

The meteorological history of Hurricane Ivan, the longest tracked tropical cyclone of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season, lasted from late August through late September. The hurricane developed from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on August 31. Tracking westward due to a ridge, favorable conditions allowed it to develop into Tropical Depression Nine on September 2 in the deep tropical Atlantic Ocean. The cyclone gradually intensified until September 5, when it underwent rapid deepening and reached Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale; at the time Ivan was the southernmost major North Atlantic hurricane on record.

The maximum sustained wind associated with a tropical cyclone is a common indicator of the intensity of the storm. Within a mature tropical cyclone, it is found within the eyewall at a distance defined as the radius of maximum wind, or RMW. Unlike gusts, the value of these winds are determined via their sampling and averaging the sampled results over a period of time. Wind measuring has been standardized globally to reflect the winds at 10 metres (33 ft) above the Earth's surface, and the maximum sustained wind represents the highest average wind over either a one-minute (US) or ten-minute time span, anywhere within the tropical cyclone. Surface winds are highly variable due to friction between the atmosphere and the Earth's surface, as well as near hills and mountains over land.

Hurricane Elida (2002) Category 5 Pacific hurricane in 2002

Hurricane Elida was the first hurricane of the 2002 Pacific hurricane season to reach Category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Forming on July 23 from a tropical wave, the storm rapidly intensified from a tropical depression into a Category 5 hurricane in two days, and lasted for only six hours at that intensity before weakening. It was one of only sixteen known hurricanes in the East Pacific east of the International Date Line to have reached such an intensity. Although heavy waves were able to reach the Mexican coastline, no damages or casualties were reported in relation to the hurricane.

Eyewall replacement cycle

Eyewall replacement cycles, also called concentric eyewall cycles, naturally occur in intense tropical cyclones, generally with winds greater than 185 km/h (115 mph), or major hurricanes. When tropical cyclones reach this intensity, and the eyewall contracts or is already sufficiently small, some of the outer rainbands may strengthen and organize into a ring of thunderstorms—an outer eyewall—that slowly moves inward and robs the inner eyewall of its needed moisture and angular momentum. Since the strongest winds are in a cyclone's eyewall, the tropical cyclone usually weakens during this phase, as the inner wall is "choked" by the outer wall. Eventually the outer eyewall replaces the inner one completely, and the storm may re-intensify.

Meteorological history of Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan's meteorological history began with its origins as a tropical disturbance east-southeast of Pohnpei and lasted until its degeneration as a tropical cyclone over Southern China. The thirteenth typhoon of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season, Haiyan originated from an area of low pressure several hundred kilometers east-southeast of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia on November 2. Tracking generally westward, environmental conditions favored tropical cyclogenesis and the system developed into a tropical depression the following day. After becoming a tropical storm and attaining the name Haiyan at 0000 UTC on November 4, the system began a period of rapid intensification that brought it to typhoon intensity by 1800 UTC on November 5. By November 6, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) assessed the system as a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale; the storm passed over the island of Kayangel in Palau shortly after attaining this strength.

Meteorological history of Hurricane Patricia

Hurricane Patricia was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere and the second-most intense worldwide in terms of barometric pressure. It also featured the highest one-minute maximum sustained winds ever recorded in a tropical cyclone. Originating from a sprawling disturbance near the Gulf of Tehuantepec in mid-October 2015, Patricia was first classified a tropical depression on October 20. Initial development was slow, with only modest strengthening within the first day of its classification. The system later became a tropical storm and was named Patricia, the twenty-fourth named storm of the annual hurricane season. Exceptionally favorable environmental conditions fueled explosive intensification on October 22. A well-defined eye developed within an intense central dense overcast and Patricia grew from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 24 hours—a near-record pace. The magnitude of intensification was poorly forecast and both forecast models and meteorologists suffered from record-high prediction errors.


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