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72hr GFS forecast map

The oranges, reds, and, whites on this map are areas of very high windshear. High windshear will reduce the ability of clouds to grow vertically. Clouds that have higher tops are cooler and can produce more severe weather. Cooling or rising cloud tops can allow tropical systems to form and intensify. This cloud cover starts in the lower levels and can grow well over 50,000 feet in major hurricanes. This shear map is derived using the 200mb to 850mb range; 200mb is 39,000 feet and 850 mb is 5000 feet. There is a nice mb to feet comparison graph here. A good understanding of the different levels of the atmosphere is important when learning to understand tropical development.
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