The National Hurricane Center
(NHC) has announced it will be removing the storm surge and flooding references
from the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale -- on an experimental basis -- for the 2009 Tropical Cyclone season.
The modified scale
will be called the "Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind
Scale". I emphasize wind
because that's what the NHC will attempt to focus on when defining storms using this scale -- nothing more.
Scientists have found that the storm surge and flooding information included in the current scale can often be inaccurate and lead to a misconception on how strong a storm will be. This was evident when residents admitted they didn't plan on evacuating during Ike, because it was "just a category 2 storm".Hurricane Ike
was officially defined as a category 2 storm based on wind speed. However, the storm surge from Ike correlated to a category 4 or 5 storm.Hurricane Katrina
was officially a category 3 storm at landfall. It also produced a storm surge common with category 5 hurricanes.
Information on storm surge and flooding associated with tropical storms and hurricanes will still be provided
in a variety of products from the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service.
It just won't be included in the official hurricane scale.
We'll also provide this important information on-air and online
, along with wind speed, pressure and other information related to tropical systems.
The storm surge is not determined by just the wind speed, but by the size of a storm and landfall location, among many other factors. So instead of providing pre-determined storm surge information related to wind speed, the NHC will provide the information separately.I should also note:
the NHC did
provide accurate storm surge information for Ike in its forecasts and discussions. We also provided storm surge information here at KBTX Media. However, if you would have referred to the Saffir-Simpson scale -- which you're recommended to do
-- it would have been inaccurate. By providing storm surge and flooding information separately, the idea is to reduce confusion.
This is an experimental change that will apply to the entire 2009 hurricane season. The NHC will determine whether or not to make the change for future seasons based on feedback.
What do you think?
You can visit the new Hurricane Center
right here at KBTX.com