"Category Five": How a Hurricane Yardstick Came to Be
By HNN Staff
The stormy 2005 hurricane season has pushed new phrases into Americans' everyday speech. News reporters now refer to "Category Five political scandals." A vacuum cleaner commercial boasts that the machine "has the suction power of a Category Two hurricane."
The bluster refers to the Saffir-Simpson scale, which ranks hurricanes from one to five based on their wind speeds and destructive potential.
The scale was devised about 35 years ago by engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson. At the time, Simpson directed the National Hurricane Center in Miami and Saffir ran his own engineering firm in neighboring Coral Gables.
Simpson and Saffir both chuckled when asked about the recent fame of their rating scale. But they also were gratified that their brainchild had found its way into popular speech.
"People are looking for yardsticks," Simpson said. "Our language has demonstrated the use of many expressions that started out to be used for one phenomenon, then were used to refer to many other things."
Saffir said he's "very pleased that the public is aware of the scale and can see the difference between a Category One and a Category Five storm. That's extremely important."
Saffir and Simpson created the scale to help local relief agencies and emergency management officials better prepare for approaching hurricanes. Until recently, the scale was mostly known to meteorologists and officials at emergency management and relief agencies.
But the unprecedented 2005 hurricane season—the most active and expensive on record—made the Saffir-Simpson scale's ranking system a household phrase. ...
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Mary Beard, herself a bestselling author, wonders why more women historians aren't
- Princeton U. historian Imani Perry claims mistreatment in parking ticket arrest
- Retired historian George Dennison remains on the payroll at the U. of Montana while faculty are cut
- The Atlantic profiles exciting ways to teach history
- LDS Church has gone from 0 to 4 historians specializing in women’s history