September 13, 2018
Predicting a hurricane’s potential impact is a complex endeavor, based on a range of factors including geography, storm surge, rainfall, gale diameter, storm speed, wind speed, and many others. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale—adopted in the wake of Hurricane Camille in 1973 to help communicate hurricane risks to the public in a more understandable way and later simplified—is derived solely from wind speed, however. 

While Saffir-Simpson provides a useful shorthand, it cannot capture the full magnitude of damage that a potential hurricane may inflict.  In fact, twelve of the thirty-six most damaging storms to make landfall in the United States since 1950 have been Category 1 or 2 storms, and many of these hurricanes were accompanied by significant storm surges and floods.

Hurricane Florence, currently a Category 2 as it makes its final approach to the Carolina coastline, still has the potential to inflict severe damage.

ResGraphic4Horizontal.2 resized