Hurricane forecasters said today they are tweaking the Saffir-Simpson Scale and will no longer tie specific storm surge and flooding impacts to categories. The National Hurricane Center said today in a release that it changed the scale because storm surges and flooding depend on several factors, including a storm’s strength, size, movement and barometric pressure, as well as the depth of water close to shore and the lay of the land along the coast.
“As a result, storm surge values can be significantly outside the ranges suggested in the original scale,” the center said.
For example, the center said, Hurricane Ike in 2008 was a very large storm that made landfall on the upper Texas coast as a Category 2 with a peak storm surge of 15 to 20 feet. Hurricane Charley struck Southwest Florida in 2004 as a Category 4 , but produced a peak storm surge of just 6 to 7 feet.
Storm surge forecasts will continue to be included in hurricane advisories; they’ll be shown in terms of height above ground level.
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