Report Number: 86
Year: 1999

A Scale Relating Tropical Cyclone Wind Speed to Potential Damage for the Tropical Pacific Ocean Region: a User's Manual

No abstract was published. An abridged version of the Introduction follows.

This User's Manual describes the development and application of a scale that relates tropical cyclone wind speed to the potential damage to structures and trees for coastal areas of the tropical Pacific Ocean. It also relates wind speed to coastal wave action associated with a tropical cyclone. The primary purpose of the scale is to enable emergency managers and decision makers to better understand the risks associated with a particular tropical cyclone wind speed. This should allow the decision makers to more accurately and confidently make the appropriate decisions and recommendations in response to a given tropical cyclone warning. The scale could also be used by the media to give the public a more accurate idea of a typhoon's specific damage potential. A secondary use of the scale is to assist in post-storm assessments of winds experienced at a location based on an analysis of the level of damage, especially where wind measuring equipment is not available or was inoperable.

The scale is adapted from the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (SSHS), which has been used in Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions of the United States for over two decades. Adaptations are based on the assessments of damage as revealed by hundreds of damage photos, personal observations, tropical cyclone summaries from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center from 1980 to 1996, post-cyclone damage reports, and interviews. This new scale has been coined the Saffir-Simpson Tropical Cyclone Scale (STCS). STCS considers the construction materials, building practices common to the tropics, the harshness of the tropical environment (specifically, the weakening effects of termite infestation, wood rot, salt-water and salt-air corrosion. STCS also accounts for the effects of coral reefs on coastal wave action, storm surge, and coastal inundation pr wave run-up from impinging wind-driven waves.

Charles "Chip" P. Guard
Mark A. Lander