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I was confused by the following sentence found in this post:

French bank shares, which have been in the eye of the storm, recovered sharply (BNP Paribas was up 13% on the day while Société Générale rose by 5%).

My impression is, and Wikipedia says that: "The eye is a region of mostly calm weather found at the center of strong tropical cyclones."

If French bank shares were in the calm region, wouldn't that imply that they were largely unscathed (in comparison to their neighbors perhaps) and that they wouldn't really have anything to "recover" from?

Is there some distinction that I am missing between eyes of storms, cyclones, hurricanes, etc?

Am I missing something else, or does the sentence not really make sense?

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They mean 'centre of the storm', apparently unaware that it is in fact a place of relative calm. It's quite a common irritation. – z7sg Ѫ Sep 17 '11 at 12:04
@z7sg Ѫ Why don't you offer that as answer (irritation and all)? – D Krueger Sep 18 '11 at 7:17

I'm pretty sure that it means that there is more turbulence to come. If you are in the eye of the storm that means that you had to suffer through the winds of the outer swirling cloud. Inevitably, as the storm moves away and you leave the eye, the winds are going to pick up again. In the context of the financial markets it could be a reference to the second dip of the double-dip recession that may be approaching.

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Agreed... To add: as the eye is the half way point, they're just saying they predict that the troubles are half over – Rikon Sep 17 '11 at 12:34
I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean that. In that case it would be "they are in the eye of the storm". No, it's just bad English. – z7sg Ѫ Sep 17 '11 at 13:01
@z7sg: I agree that it should be centre rather than eye if you don't want to mix metaphors inappropriately and irk some readers. – Cerberus Sep 17 '11 at 17:57

Most storm systems do not have a clearly formed center or eye, with strong winds swirling around a relatively calm center, but hurricanes (strong tropical cyclones) do. When the eye of such a storm moves directly overhead, the storm's winds abate sharply and the sky looks clear. This image from Boston.com shows what a hurricane's eye looks like from above—and why it is such an apt name. According to Wikipedia, the eye of a strong tropical cyclone "is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter."

As Autoresponder points out, the eye of the hurricane is dangerous because inexperienced people may suppose that the storm has departed when in fact it will resume at full force as soon as the storm's eye passes by and its eye wall (which immediately surrounds the eye and contains the hurricane's strongest winds) moves overhead. I grew up in a city on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and can well remember being instructed in elementary school not to go out in a hurricane that suddenly became calm and seemed to have dissipated—because that was a sign that the eye was passing overhead.

So technically, "eye of the storm" refers to a false calm at the center of a real or figurative storm (specifically, a strong tropical cyclone). However, many writers use it to mean simply the middle of the action, where the upheaval is strongest. For example (from "Citibank Getting Burned In Studio Confusion," Fishbowl LA, November 13, 2008):

The legal fight is the latest byproduct of a worsening financial picture both globally and in Hollywood. The Dow fell for a third straight day, shedding 411 points. Citigroup is at the eye of the storm in the media and entertainment sector, which is one reason its shares dropped nearly 11% to $9.64, their lowest level in 13 years.

Clearly the point here is that Citigroup is in the midst of the actual tumult, not in a calm envelope at the center of a gigantic storm, untouched for the moment as everything around it endures the full fury of the storm's blasting winds and rain.

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The eye of the storm is an idiomatic expression that means to be in the middle of a greatly argued or debated situation. It is commonly used to refer to any subject of much animated discussion/debate.

That the "eye of a storm is a peaceful place" is a meteorological nicety. As a fact, it offers little solace in real life. Even if it were safe, by the same meteorological token, a storm is usually a moving (non-stationary) force, so the so-called 'safe zone' would be 'safe' for no more than a brief period! Here's the excerpt from the Wiki page.

Though the eye is by far the calmest part of the storm, with no wind at the center and typically clear skies, over the ocean it is possibly the most hazardous area. In the eyewall, wind-driven waves are all traveling in the same direction. In the center of the eye, however, waves from all directions converge, creating erratic crests which can build on each other, creating rogue waves. The maximum height of hurricane waves is unknown, but measurements of Hurricane Ivan, when it was a category four hurricane, estimated that waves near the eyewall were in excess of 40 meters (130 ft) from peak to trough.[26]

A common mistake, especially in areas where hurricanes are uncommon, is for residents to wander outside to inspect the damage while the eye passes over, thinking the storm is over. They are then caught completely by surprise by the violent winds in the opposite eyewall. The National Weather Service strongly discourages leaving shelter while the eye passes over.[27]

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The eye of a physical storm is a place of relatively calm wind speeds, but it is also a place of the highest temperatures. I believe the problem with using this as a metaphor is that it has the potential for two opposing meanings. Is the emphasis on the gentleness of the wind relative to the surrounding area or the higher temperature relative to the surrounding area?

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