Sunday June 3rd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😊. Here is today’s main climate change related hot topic:
Calling For Category 6
No this post won’t be about rooting for terrible hurricanes to occur since I’m not satanic, although a few of my former coworkers would beg to differ.😉 After what happened in the Atlantic hurricane season last year several groups are starting to call for a new, higher category for hurricanes, which makes logical sense. A new Inside Climate News article, which I will be referring to, states that we need a new “category 6”:
Let’s first start by refreshing everyone’s memory of the current Saffir-Simpson category definitions:
|Category||Sustained Winds||Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds|
|Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.|
|Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.|
|Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.|
|Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
|157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher
|Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
Notice that at the high end of the scale the threshold for category 4 hurricanes is 130 mph. Once we see a system reach 157 mph it becomes a monster category 5. Last year Irma attained winds of 180 mph, which was 23 mph higher than the threshold for a category 5. What if a hurricane reaches 190 mph or higher? At 190 mph using 2nd grade math we would have a system that is 33 mph stronger than threshold category 5 strength and 6 mph stronger than the difference between the threshold for category 4 and 5. Would it not make sense to have a new top end category to account for systems getting roughly 25 mph stronger than the threshold for category 5?
Beyond the media wow factor for saying that X system achieved yet another status, physically it just makes sense to have another step on the hurricane ladder given that higher wind speeds exponentially cause more damage:
Quoting Dr. Michael Mann from the article:
“The current intensity scale doesn’t capture the fact that a 10 mph increase in sustained wind speeds ups the damage potential by 20 percent,” Mann said. “That’s not a subtle effect. It’s one that we can see.” Based on the spacing of Categories 1-5, there should be a Category 6 approaching peak winds of 190 mph, he said.
A third reason for having category 6 is that researches are beginning to come to the consensus that global warming is producing more powerful hurricanes via warmer sea surface temperatures. Gulp, even in my lifetime I’ve noticed many more powerful recent systems such as Andrew, Katrina and Irma. I’m in the camp stating that we will see many more 180+ mph storms well before the year 2030. I’ll conclude today’s hot topic with this passage from the article:
Big Concern: Preparing for More Intense Storms
When it comes to hurricanes, most of the overwhelming damage, including loss of life, is from the “very few strongest storms,” Mann said. “What matters is how many Category 3, 4, and 5 storms we get, and we’re likely to see more of those storms, and more damage and loss of life as a result.”
What happened in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is one example. The storm resulted in the greatest estimated loss of life on record from any storm in the U.S., with estimates of over 4,600 deaths, many from lack of access to medical care in the weeks and months after the storm, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“That’s not a coincidence,” said Mann. “We have to recognize that by some measures, dangerous climate change isn’t some far-off thing we can look to avoid. It has arrived.”
In other news we are seeing some more interesting climatology for May. What a contrast between April and May!
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The Climate Guy