Improving Hurricane Intensity Awareness by Creating a Radius of 64 Knot Winds Scale and NASA Satellite Monitoring System for the Atlantic Basin and Gulf of Mexico

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Josh David Stodghill, NASA DEVELOP, Mobile, AL; and A. M. Billiot, R. M. Penton, A. K. Dixon, and A. J. Eiserloh Jr.

Hurricane Ike finds itself near the top of every major chart as one of the costliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. The striking thing about its placement near the top is that it was only a category 2 hurricane at landfall based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (SSHS), which only takes into account wind speed. The low classification of this hurricane as well as other hurricanes compared to the amount of damage they produced has sparked much research into the development of a new and improved category scale. Although wind speed is an important indicator of hurricane intensity, the DEVELOP team at the Mobile County Health Department has found that the radius of 64 knot winds (R 64) is also a necessary factor to consider when determining a hurricane's damage potential. Through this study, an R 64 scale was developed. In order to find an easy and accurate way of measuring R 64, a technique was developed to derive R 64 from QuikSCAT satellite imagery. In an attempt to use both wind speed and R 64 data in one combined scale, three combined scales were proposed. The SSHS, R 64 scale, and all three combined scales were correlated to monetary damages. All of the combined scales were found to be better correlated representations of the potential monetary loss than the SSHS.