It's never too early to get ready for the up coming hurricane season, but this year the National Hurricane Center has a few changes in mind. The first involves the scale the hurricane center uses to categorize hurricanes. The new scale will drop storm surge criteria to categorize hurricanes in the 2010 hurricane season. The new Saffir Simpson Wind Scale will use wind only as a basis to measure the strength of hurricanes.
The original scale seen above was developed by Herbert Saffir an engineer and former director at the National Hurricane Center. The scale gained wide acceptance when Dr Neil Frank was the director from the 1970s through the 1980s. During the mid 1990s the central pressure was also dropped as a means of categorizing hurricanes. Advances in wind measurements on board hurricane hunter aircraft made wind measurements more reliable.
At the top of the scale in terms of storm surge damage was hurricane Katrina with winds upon landfall at a category three but with storm surge over 18 feet.. The second from the top is hurricane Ike, a category 2 hurricane, but with category 5 storm surge. These two storms clearly did not fit the original Saffir Simpson Hurricane parameters. Storm surge studies have indicated that coastal flooding is modulated by more than just peak wind. Coastal inundation is also dependent on the depth of near shore waters, topography, the hurricane's forward speed and the angle it strikes the coast. Hurricane Charley was on the opposite side of the scale with strong category 4 winds but with only 6 - 8 ft storm surge levels.
Another change for the 2010 hurricane season will be that hurricanes warnings and watches will now come twelve hours earlier than in previous years. Storm surge information will still be available and will be passed on as the above ground level depth of flooding associated with the hurricane. It is very important to know how much water your home can take so you can leave before the storm arrives. Be safe and get to know the best evacuation routes before the next Ike threatens your area.