Monday, March 20, 2006

Larry - Lost in Translation

Most media reports on Tropical Cyclone Larry put it at a category 5, with 180 mph winds. Except, they don't use the Saffir-Simpson Scale in Australia like they do for Atlantic hurricanes. They use this one that bases the category on maximum windspeed (including gusts) rather than maximum sustained winds. Larry topped out at the equivalent of Category 3 on the scale we're used to, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, but gusts up to 180 mph. To compare this to a recent category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, Katrina had maximum sustained winds of 175 mph with gusts up to 215 mph.

Not that Larry is a weakling. A category 3 is still strong. But if you put 180 mph instead of 290 kph because your readers might not be familiar with "kph", perhaps you should also use the hurricane scale they're used to as well.

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