Hurricane Isaac and the Saffir Simpson scale

By: wxchaser97 , 5:27 PM GMT on September 26, 2012

Share this Blog
11
+

Hurricane Isaac
Hurricane Isaac had a big impact on many lives in the US and around North America. Isaac has caused lots of damage in the US and Caribbean islands. In the US alone so far $2 billion dollars in damage have been done with 9 fatalities. In all Isaac has caused over $2 billion USD in damage and over 40 fatalities. These numbers, at least damages, are expected to rise as more surveys go on. Many homes were lost to the surge, flooding, and wind. Surge was up to 14-15ft, up to 20" of rain fell, and 80mph winds blasted the coast. While at first Isaac was forecasted to strengthen into a strong cat2 he was never able to. Too much dry air and a lack of a central core prevented any strengthening in the gulf until landfall. When Isaac was making landfall his structure improved and winds came up, but his size/surge would be the biggest problem. Many were caught off guard when Isaac came in as he wasn't supposed to "be a strong hurricane". Many people will never forget hurricane Isaac and it is possible the name Isaac is retired from the hurricane naming list. Isaac was a difficult storm to forecast and left forecasters thinking. No one had really expected Isaac to not strengthen or take the path he did. What I want to address is the problems with the current hurricane rating system and propose a new one.



Explaining the Saffir Simpson scale

This is the current scale that rates tropical storms and hurricanes. It is mostly based off of just wind speed and doesn't provide much info on storm surge and rain. The scale is broken down into separate categories based off of how strong the winds are. The categories in the scale are tropical depression, tropical storm, category 1 hurricane, category 2 hurricane, category 3 hurricane, category 4 hurricane, and category 5 hurricane. A tropical depression is pretty weak and a tropical storm has some rain, wind, and surge. Hurricanes are further branched of into the numbered categories of 1-5 with 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest and 3 or higher is considered a major hurricane. This scale is the official hurricane scale for the Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern/Central Pacific Ocean. Storms usually form from tropical depressions and then strengthen and go higher on the scale. However, we get exceptions to this or storms expose flaws in our current scale which needs to be fixed.


What went wrong with the SSHS
Hurricane Isaac is only the latest example to show problems with the SSHS. Some other examples would be Ike, Charley, and even Katrina has shown things with the SSHS. What we have seen is that a really large storm may not have as strong of winds as the pressure indicates, but have a big storm surge. A small storm may have strong winds but little storm surge. Also extreme amounts of rainfall dropped from some storms is not taken into account. Thus a false warning is sent out to the public and this could be potentially fatal. Isaac has been a costly reminder that it is time to change how we rate/forecast our storms. It could've been worse with Isaac, but it was still very ugly. I feel now is the time to begin to change before another storm comes along and things don't go to plan.

How to fix/change the SSHS and my proposed scale
As I have already said, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale needs to be changed. To get people more aware of the dangers and to more accurately rate storms I have made changes. I call my scale the Modified Tropical Intensity Scale. First I have changed the wind speeds just a little from the SSHS to my scale, the MTIS. It is just so I can adjust the categories around a little and so the is a more uniformed increase in winds. My second change, a big one, is to add a new category. Usually tropical storms are downplayed even when the reach the upper limits so I want to address this. The severe tropical storm category is the upper level of a tropical storm and people will take it more seriously. I have based this off the Western Pacific using a similar thing and I liked the idea. Then I had to take care of the storm surge and rainfall issue. I have 3 columns in my scale and they are wind, storm surge, and rainfall. The MTIS mostly focuses on wind and surge but also includes rainfall in the decisions. Hopefully this will more accurately indicate the strength of a tropical storm or hurricane. Finally I have created a points system to help rank where a storm or hurricane goes. There is some flexibility with this part but usually it should work out fine. I am hoping this would be a better solution than the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.


Comments and suggestions would be great so I can look at any initial flaws and make improvements. Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! I will have a tropical update later today but a link to this blog will be at that one.
Locations of Site Visitors

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 19 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

19. wxchaser97
12:28 PM GMT on September 27, 2012
Quoting Dragod66:
Yes good job buddy... there are a few things to take into account though. One the speed of storms. A slow moving storm brings all these factors for a longer amount of time. Therefore more risk. Also there is a certain added risk if a storm is hitting an area that doesn't get hit as often. Canada for example doesn't get hit as often by strong storms but when we do they tend to do more damage than if they would hit say, Florida. This is in part due to unpreparedness and other things like the environment not being used to such extreme rainfall like in Hurricane hazel which the Toronto area (killed 81 people in that area due to flooding from a tropical storm)was not used to or the winds in Hurricane Juan that Halifax was not used to due to our old large deciduous trees that are spaced throughout the city. Due to the trees Halifax endured Category 3 Hurricane damage but was a minimal Category 2 at landfall. And according to your scale was a Category 1. I just think outliers should be taken into account. Really good work though, I agree that the scale has to change and even if it was changed to your scale it would be more informative and people would be more likely to heed warnings.

Right now this is a ongoing project and I can look into more details as I go on, thanks!
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
18. Dragod66
12:12 PM GMT on September 27, 2012
Yes good job buddy... there are a few things to take into account though. One the speed of storms. A slow moving storm brings all these factors for a longer amount of time. Therefore more risk. Also there is a certain added risk if a storm is hitting an area that doesn't get hit as often. Canada for example doesn't get hit as often by strong storms but when we do they tend to do more damage than if they would hit say, Florida. This is in part due to unpreparedness and other things like the environment not being used to such extreme rainfall like in Hurricane hazel which the Toronto area (killed 81 people in that area due to flooding from a tropical storm)was not used to or the winds in Hurricane Juan that Halifax was not used to due to our old large deciduous trees that are spaced throughout the city. Due to the trees Halifax endured Category 3 Hurricane damage but was a minimal Category 2 at landfall. And according to your scale was a Category 1. I just think outliers should be taken into account. Really good work though, I agree that the scale has to change and even if it was changed to your scale it would be more informative and people would be more likely to heed warnings.
Member Since: August 24, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 604
17. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
11:57 AM GMT on September 27, 2012
wxchaser97 has created a new entry.
16. wxchaser97
11:41 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Good job 97!

Thanks MA!
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
15. MAweatherboy1
11:39 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Good job 97!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7640
14. wxchaser97
11:21 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting angelafritz:
Nice job. This is definitely a hot topic right now in the tropical world. It's so important to communicate risk, and this does a good job of that.

Thank you, I feel it is important to let people know what is coming at them efficiently.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
13. wxchaser97
11:11 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting allancalderini:
I agree on the severe tropical storm category but the potential rainfall is a little problematic for me because depression call bring even more rain than some hurricanes td 16 brought record break rain in here and it was just a depression meanwhile Matthew was a ts and didn`t even bring a afternoon rainfall.

Yeah, more emphasis is on wind and surge with some thought on rainfall.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
12. allancalderini
11:08 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting allancalderini:
I agree on the severe tropical storm category but the potential rainfall is a little problematic for me because depression can bring even more rain than some hurricanes td 16 brought record break rain in here and it was just a depression meanwhile Matthew was a ts and didn`t even bring a afternoon rainfall.
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4076
11. allancalderini
11:07 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting wxchaser97:

Thank you, that sounds really awesome. I would be totally ok with you doing that, I don't steal other people's ideas as well.




Thanks Allan, I really appreciate it.
I agree on the severe tropical storm category but the potential rainfall is a little problematic for me because depression call bring even more rain than some hurricanes td 16 brought record break rain in here and it was just a depression meanwhile Matthew was a ts and didn`t even bring a afternoon rainfall.
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4076
10. Angela Fritz , Atmospheric Scientist (Admin)
11:02 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Nice job. This is definitely a hot topic right now in the tropical world. It's so important to communicate risk, and this does a good job of that.
9. wxchaser97
10:51 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting HurricaneDean07:

Well done work. I was thinking about the same thing awhile back, I might be going to NASA next summer for an internship, maybe I can mention it to them, Of coarse giving you the credit.. Im not the type to steal ideas.

Thank you, that sounds really awesome. I would be totally ok with you doing that, I don't steal other people's ideas as well.



Quoting allancalderini:
Amazing love the chart you make.

Thanks Allan, I really appreciate it.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
8. allancalderini
10:47 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Amazing love the chart you make.
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4076
7. HurricaneDean07
10:46 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting wxchaser97:

You're welcome, the chart on the bottom is a key while the top is the scale itself.

Well done work. I was thinking about the same thing awhile back, I might be going to NASA next summer for an internship, maybe I can mention it to them, Of coarse giving you the credit.. Im not the type to steal ideas.
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
6. wxchaser97
6:39 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting TropicTraveler:
I thought this was very interesting but couldn't figure out where the points transfer from the top scale to the bottom. Shouldn't they line out in sequence to a point scale at the end of the top chart? Good thought went into this project. Thanks.

You're welcome, the chart on the bottom is a key while the top is the scale itself.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
5. TropicTraveler
6:27 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
I thought this was very interesting but couldn't figure out where the points transfer from the top scale to the bottom. Shouldn't they line out in sequence to a point scale at the end of the top chart? Good thought went into this project. Thanks.
Member Since: July 24, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 924
4. wxchaser97
6:24 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


luck-E-U

I am lucky, 2 days after today and then the weekend.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
3. GeorgiaStormz
6:11 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting wxchaser97:

You're welcome, I don't have school today but you do.


luck-E-U
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9721
2. wxchaser97
5:34 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Thx.
Now i go back to jail.
Are you out of school?

You're welcome, I don't have school today but you do.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
1. GeorgiaStormz
5:33 PM GMT on September 26, 2012
Thx.
Now i go back to jail.
Are you out of school?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9721

Viewing: 19 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

Top of Page

About wxchaser97

I'm in high school and love meteorology and extreme weather. I've been fascinated by weather since I was 5, and I plan on becoming a meteorologist.