Friday, December 07, 2007

Herbert Saffir is dead

I'm not totally on top of what's happening with hurricane celebrities, so this news is a few weeks old. Mr. Saffir died November 21st at the age of 90 -- he's the 'Saffir' in 'Saffir-Simpson.'
Before the scale, hurricanes were simply described as major or minor.

Mr. Saffir's innovation was ranking storm destruction by type, from Category 1 -- where trees and unanchored mobile homes receive the primary damage -- to Category 5 -- the complete failure of roofs and some structures. The five descriptions of destruction were then matched with the sustained wind speeds producing the corresponding damage.
5 is a good number of levels for stuff. When people try to design three-level alert systems, I try to slip in two more, because I know there are going to be requests for 'Medium High' and 'Medium Low.'
Mr. Simpson said the system helped him communicate the power of an approaching storm.

"We had a lot of requests before the scale: how many resources of what kind would be needed to deal with the storm," Mr. Simpson said during a phone interview earlier this year. "I couldn't tell the Salvation Army, for example, how much and what materials they should be shipping. The scale gave them a much better handle on that."

So, yeah, super useful. Thanks, Mr. Saffir! And Mr. Sampson? I guess we can thank you while you're alive.

No comments: