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USGNN Original StoryNOAA Forecasts "Near Normal" Hurricane Season; Uses Experimental Saffir-Simpson Scale
June 5, 2009

This past week marks the beginning of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters are predicting it will most likely be a "near-normal" one this year.

In its initial outlook for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, the NOAA's National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is calling for a 50 percent probability of a near-normal season, a 25 percent probability of an above-normal season and a 25 percent probability of a below-normal season. Global weather patterns are imposing a greater uncertainty in the 2009 hurricane season outlook than in recent years. Forecasters say there is a 70 percent chance of having nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5).

Considering these near normal hurricane predictions, some experts say the glass industry is prepared for what the season may bring.

"I think the glass industry has really stepped up to the plate to provide products that are not only impact resistant, but also have energy-efficient qualities," says Brian Evans, president of CGI Windows in Miami.

New for the NOAA this year is an experimental Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. In its current form, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, as applied to storms in the Atlantic and eastern North and Central Pacific basins, includes storm surge ranges and flooding references. On an experimental basis for the 2009 Tropical Cyclone Season, these storm surge ranges and flooding references will be removed from the definition/effects for each category (1-5).

According to the NOAA, the inclusion of storm surge information is scientifically inaccurate because surge is a product of many factors not considered in the scale. These include storm size and forward speed, and bathymetry and characteristics of the coastline in the landfall location. The NOAA says storm surge values for each category are frequently incorrect.

While the NOAA is accepting comments on the experimental scale until November 30 (CLICK HERE for more information) changing the scale would have little impact on companies producing hurricane glazing systems.

"Glazing industry regulations have always been based on the presence and detrimental affects of windborne debris, so this change will not affect the concept of the protection for windows and doors as we use it today," says Julie Schimmelpenningh, global architectural applications manager for Saflex, a unit of Solutia Inc. She adds that while there may be windload and wind zone adjustments as the NOAA gathers more data, she does not expect it would alter current hurricane glazing system testing procedures and requirements.

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