Absurdly powerful storms like Irma, pictured here slamming into Fort Myers, Florida, on Sept. 10, 2018, have led some to wonder if the Saffir-Simpson scale is still an adequate measure of the destructive potential of hurricanes. Spencer Platt/Getty Images When Hurricane Irma roared across the Atlantic in September 2017, it became the most powerful hurricane to form outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Irma was a monster Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 185 miles (298 kilometers) per hour. Irma cut a deadly path, devastating a small string of Caribbean islands and a chunk of the Southeastern United States. As Irma pounded the region with ferocious wind, high surf and flooding rain, some scientists renewed their calls to change the Saffir-Simpson scale to account for the emergence of these so-called "super hurricanes." Scientists use the Saffir-Simpson scale as a yardstick to measure the destructive potential of hurricanes. The scale begins with Category 1, the … [Read more...] about Do We Need a Category 6 for Hurricanes?
Hurricane category 6
Portions of a boat dock and boardwalk were destroyed by powerful storm surge from Hurricane Florence in September 2018, in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images We've all seen the intrepid TV weatherman, hanging on to a wind-whipped lamppost for dear life — and, perhaps, for dear ratings — during a hurricane. But as we've probably all heard, it's not the wind that'll get you when a high-category storm heads your way: It's the water. As residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast brace for Hurricane Michael, they'll hear lots about storm surge, a bulge of seawater that accompanies hurricanes. It is, statistically, the biggest culprit when it comes to death and destruction in a hurricane. Though to give credit where credit is due, storm surge is largely the result of high winds pushing the water along. Either way, wind or water, the point remains: With hurricanes, it's best not to mess around. What Is Storm Surge? Crashing surf and rising rivers are … [Read more...] about Storm Surge, Not Wind, Is the Deadliest Part of a Hurricane
Waves crash around the Oceana Pier as the outer edges of Hurricane Florence begin to affect the coast in Atlantic Beach. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images As Hurricane Florence took aim at the East Coast of U.S. on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stood before news cameras and issued a stern warning in the most sober of terms: "This is a powerful storm that can kill. Now is the time to get yourself to a safe place and stay there." It was, and is, a simple fact. Hurricanes will kill you. In many, many ways. Hurricane Florence was packing sustained winds of 140 mph (225 kph) Wednesday night before they dropped to 105 mph (168 kph) and it was downgraded to a Category 2. But as the storm approaches the coast, the area covered by hurricane-force winds has doubled, meaning more people will be impacted by winds 74 mph (119 kph) or greater. The Storm Surge But the weakening winds shouldn't ease anyone in the impact zone because it's the rain and storm surge with … [Read more...] about Why Hurricane Florence’s Storm Surge Could Be So Deadly
Hurricane Irma was the strongest hurricane to ever form in the open Atlantic. It was able to sustain winds of 185 mph (297 kph) for 35 hours. NOAA When hurricane season arrives each year on June 1, phrases such as "storm surge," "wind speed," and "eyewall" suddenly become part of the summer lexicon in the United States. But probably the most important words to know about a hurricane are those that describe its power — and those include whether it's a Category 1 or a Category 5. The variance between the strengths of these two storms could mean the difference between life and death. Meteorologists rank hurricanes from one to five based on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The scale is a yardstick that takes into account a hurricane's wind speed, storm surge and air pressure. The scale begins with a Category 1, the least powerful and dangerous hurricane, and moves towards its climax at Category 5 — the most catastrophic. But how did the Saffir-Simpson scale come to be, and what … [Read more...] about What Hurricane Categories Really Mean
This photo was taken on Dec. 10, 2014, during a weather bomb that hit the U.K. This wave was smashing into Blackpool, which is situated on England's northwest coast. Waves as high as 40 feet (12 meters) battered the U.K., which also faced serious winds... Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto via Getty Images Scientists in Japan may have stumbled on a window to deep-Earth. In a study recently published in the journal Science, researchers traced a rare type of seismic activity detected in Japan in 2014 to a "weather bomb" on the other side of the planet. According to the authors, as the storm pounded the North Atlantic, it generated S-waves, a kind of faint Earth tremor never detected before, that registered in Japan. The authors suggest weather bombs may help us map deep-Earth and better recognize activity preceding earthquakes. If true, this might be the first upside to the weather bomb. The bomb phenomenon, known as "bombogenesis" (seriously), occurs in extratropical cyclones, … [Read more...] about Weather Bombs Are Spectacularly Destructive