Axios Science puts out wonderfully insightful information on science, including that related to climate issues. Here’s a short, but fascinating, glimpse into our current hurricane Florence.
What sets Hurricane Florence apart
Hurricane Florence is the first storm in known Atlantic hurricane history to reach the U.S. from where it started in the North Atlantic — all others had recurved harmlessly out to sea from there.
The big picture: It’s also unusually large and slow-moving, as the map above shows, and it’s also approaching the coast at a nearly 90-degree angle. These 2 factors are big reasons why the storm is such a concern, and why the cable news buildup to this event is actually (somewhat) warranted.
Hurricane Florence is a Category 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale as of Thursday afternoon.
Between the lines: This storm illustrates the limits of the official rankings of hurricanes. Once the storm was “downgraded” from a Category 4 to a Category 2 on Wednesday night, Twitter lit up with concerned meteorologists worried that people in harm’s way wouldn’t take it seriously.
Even the National Hurricane Center got into the mix, tweeting: “Do not focus on the wind speed category of #Hurricane #Florence! Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected.”
By only benchmarking a storm’s winds, the Saffir-Simpson Scale ignores the deadliest aspect of a landfalling storm: water.
Perhaps it’s because high winds used to kill more people in such storms, and the scale was developed by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson in the early 1970s.
The bottom line: Some of the country’s most expensive hurricanes have been Category 1 or 2 storms, including Ike ($7.3 billion) and Sandy ($70 billion).