NOAA Forecasts “Near Normal” Hurricane Season; Uses Experimental Saffir-Simpson Scale

June 18th, 2009 | Category: Industry News

hurricaneWith the advent of a new hurricane season, its that time of year again when it pays to carry a few science-based predictions in the sales briefcase. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters predict it will most likely be a “near-normal” season this time around. In its initial outlook for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, the NOAA’s National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is calling for a 50 percent probability of a near-normal season, a 25 percent probability of an above-normal season and a 25 percent probability of a below-normal season. Forecasters say there is a 70 percent chance of having nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes, meaning category three, four or five.

New for the NOAA this year is an experimental Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. In its current form, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, as applied to storms in the Atlantic and eastern North and Central Pacific basins, includes storm surge ranges and flooding references. On an experimental basis for the 2009 Tropical Cyclone Season, these storm surge ranges and flooding references will be removed from the definition/effects for each category (one through five).

According to the NOAA, the inclusion of storm surge information is scientifically inaccurate because surge is a product of many factors not considered in the scale.

These include storm size and forward speed, and bathymetry and characteristics of the coastline in the landfall location. The NOAA says storm surge values for each category are frequently incorrect.

While the NOAA is accepting comments on the experimental scale until November 30 (Visit the following link for more information: http://www.weather.gov/infoservicechanges/sshws.pdf) changing the scale would have little impact on companies producing hurricane-glazing systems.

“Glazing industry regulations have always been based on the presence and detrimental effects of windborne debris, so this change will not affect the concept of the protection for windows and doors as we use it today,” says Julie Schimmelpenningh, global architectural applications manager for Saflex, a unit of Solutia Inc., the parent company of CP Films. She adds that while there may be windload and wind zone adjustments as the NOAA gathers more data, she does not expect it would alter current hurricane glazing system testing procedures and requirements.

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