A Note on the Radius of Maximum Wind for Hurricanes

S. A. Hsu, Zhongde Yan


Studies of wind waves in the shallow water require the input of deep water wave characteristics. Under hurricane conditions, a parameter called the radius of maximum wind, R, is needed for deep water wave generation. Although literature states that the typical value of R is either 40 or 50 km, it has not been quantified. This brief note is to provide the R values as a function of the Saffir/Simpson hurricane classification. On the basis of 59 hurricanes from 1893 through 1979 affecting the U.S. coastline as compiled by Simpson and Riehl, 90% fall between categories 2 and 4 having a composite mean R = 48 km with a standard deviation of only 3 km. Since only 8% and 2% sample remain for Categories 1 and 5, respectively, the statistical results are not recommended; however use of the generic formula to obtain R should be employed. The composite mean of 47 km for all hurricanes as compiled with central pressures between 909 and 993 mb is obtained, which quantifies the literature value.


Hurricanes; maximum winds; Saffir/Simpson; central pressure

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