To alleviate apparent confusion over storm surge and flooding predictions that were in conflict with the reality of events when a hurricane made landfall, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale was updated by the National Weather Services’ National Hurricane Center, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The revised scale will continue to classify and/or identify hurricanes by maximum sustained wind speeds. a storm with winds reaching 74 mph is considered Category 1. Category 3 and higher is considered a "major hurricane,'' and a Category 4 storm is capable of damaging well-built homes. The strongest storm—with winds greater than 155 mph—is considered a Category 5 hurricane.
Insurers with policyholders in hurricane prone areas will have this type of risk management information available to them on how strong a storm it will take to damage or physically bring down the trees, fences, power lines and building.
The damage descriptions to homes, shopping centers and industrial buildings are more specific than the previous version and updated to reflect more coastal development, notes the agency.
The Saffir-Simpson Team (Timothy Schott, Chris Landsea, Gene Hafele, Jeffrey Lorens, Arthur Taylor, Harvey Thurm, Bill Ward, Mark Willis, and Walt Zaleski), released the updates, which eliminates references to flooding caused by rain and estimates for storm surge, or the mound of seawater pushed ahead by a hurricane's winds.
According to reports, the hurricane center is considering adding a storm-surge warning to its list of watches and warnings during hurricane season.
Meanwhile, storm surge and flooding forecasts will remain in hurricane advisories and statements issued by the National Hurricane Center and local National Weather Service offices.
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