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for University of West Georgia faculty and staff, is the official
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Book a Vacation to Florida in June

“The first day of spring is just behind us. The sun has moved slightly north of the equator on its march toward the Tropic of Cancer. The Northern Hemisphere will receive a little more solar energy today than it did yesterday, and a little more tomorrow than today. As the months pass, sea surface temperature rises with the summer heating, and the ocean stores energy to generate hurricanes. Yes, another hurricane season looms. But isn't it too early to start thinking of hurricanes, you might be saying? The truth is, we should never stop thinking of them. When hurricane season arrives June 1, it will be too late.”

Book a vacation to Florida in June.

David Bush

That is how the article co-written by David Bush, professor of geosciences, and Rob Young, professor of geosciences and natural resource management at Western Carolina University, began in the Orlando Sentinel April 2 edition.

Young and Bush have completed more than 14 years of reconnaissance work at hurricane impact areas along the East Coast and the Caribbean and hope to finish a special publication on their collaboration. But hurricanes like Bertha and Fran (1996), Dennis and Floyd (1999) and Katrina, Wilma, Rita and Dennis(2005), have kept them too busy.

“Every year hurricane season gets busier and busier,” said Bush. “Which means I don’t have the time to write about them. There is a paradox somewhere in all of that.”

Using his years of research in ecosystems along sandy beaches, reefs and estuaries, Bush helped to develop risk assessment maps for coastal regions and introduced the Hurricane Impact Scale to scientists and engineers.

The Hurricane Impact Scale is similar to the Saffer-Simpson Scale but instead of measuring hurricane category strength, it assesses the impact of flooding and wind damage in a hurricane on southeastern coastlines.

“I say ‘live in the blue’,” Bush said, referring to the blue areas on his maps that depict the least vulnerable southeastern coastal areas to live. “Not in the red.”

The bright red portions of the map show the potential for a lot of damage from wind, storm surge and rain.  

Their research confirms that people underestimate the effect of wind damage from hurricanes.

“I am constantly amazed when I see families packing up their possessions to evacuate but still leave their stack of firewood and patio furniture outside,” said Bush. “Talk about property damage. They should be tying down those storage buildings, too.”

Last year’s quiet hurricane season has not dampened Bush’s interest in hurricane impact potentials. There will always be another season.

Bush is editor of Southeastern Geology. Young is also professor of Natural Resource Management at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. where he directs the Study of Developed Shorelines. David Bush is a UWG professor of geology and a research fellow at the program.





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