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New Storm Surge Warning


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  • Location: Western Isles
  • Location: Western Isles
    At last week's 63rd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference, a number of notable news items surfaced regarding doings at the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Some of these are detailed on the NHC web site, and others I learned by talking to the people at the conference and via emails. Of note:

    Saffir-Simpson Scale being redefined

    NHC is considering removing any mention of storm surge from the familiar Category 1-2-3-4-5 Saffir-Simpson scale, starting this June. The current definition is primarily based upon wind speed, but storm surge flooding is included as well. The new definition will make the Saffir-Simpson scale exclusively keyed to wind speeds. This change will help pave the way for the proposed Storm Surge Warning, discussed next.

    New Storm Surge Warning product proposed

    The impact of Hurricane Ike on the Texas coast in 2008 underscored the inadequacy of the Saffir-Simpson scale to characterize storm surge threat. Ike was a strong Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, yet brought a storm surge characteristic of a strong Category 3 hurricane to the coast. Very high storm surges in excess of ten feet were recorded along portions the Louisiana coast, in regions that did not get hurricane force winds. The water level rose four feet above normal at Pascagoula, MS, some 170 miles to the east of the eastern edge of the Hurricane Warning, well before that warning was issued. To address these concerns, NHC is considering issuing a separate storm surge warning. This is great idea, but there are a number of major technical hurdles to leap before this product can be made operational. NHC director Bill Read indicated that official storm surge warnings are probably 3 - 5 years in the future. Among the concerns:

    1) What level of water qualifies? Should it be different depending on the location?

    2) Should a level of certainty be used (e.g., 40% chance of the surge reaching 5 feet?)

    3) Would a "storm surge watch" be issued beforehand?

    4) The storm surge can stay elevated for several days after a storm passes. How long would the surge warning stay in effect?

    any thoughts?

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMaste...l?entrynum=1198

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