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Rating disasters--ALL disasters--on same scale (like scales for tornados, hurricanes)

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  • Rating disasters--ALL disasters--on same scale (like scales for tornados, hurricanes)

    What if there was a single, comprehensive scale for ALL disasters?

    We rate tornados and hurricanes and that helps in knowing how bad a situation is, but what if we could compare ALL situations on a single scale?

    A 'one scale to rule them all' way of evaluating the severity of an event or situation would be useful probably in ways we wouldn't fully realize until we had it, but it seems it would be pretty useful even without spelling out how we'd use it.

    If that's the case, I won't be surprised if someone's already thought of this, and if so, I'll be glad to have it pointed out.

    Or maybe there are good reasons that it doesn't exist. I'll be glad to have those pointed out, too.

    But if, somehow, such doesn't already exist, and there aren't reasons for that being the case, I'm imagining the rating system would look at things like:
    • how large of an area is effected?
    • what's the geography of the affected area--mountains? low-lying/coastal areas?
    • what's the current/short-term weather for that area?
    • how large of a population is affected?
    • degree of damage to power grid?--lines down but not poles? poles down but substations/transformers ok? etc.
    • is clean water/sanitary sewage still possible?
    • how much of daily life is affected in that area: schools still open? people able to go to work?
    • how usable are roads/bridges?--just iced up/snow covered, or covered by landslides, or washed out/damaged by earthquake
    • is the cause of the problem over and done (a storm that blows through and is gone) or is it on-going (flooding, chemical spill, or disease/conditions cause a disease)?

    What other factors are there to consider?

    Does it matter what order these are considered?

    Should some of them multiply the effects of others--or somehow interact with the others--to kick things up?

    I'm thinking that this system would have maybe 10 (or so) factors to consider. If each had a 1to 10 rating, it'd be pretty easy to rate the disaster on a 1 to 100 scale.

    Seems like that could make for an interesting comparison of different scenarios: seeing how tornados compare to snow storms, or forest fires to earthquakes and/or hurricanes.

    If there actually is a use for such, that's all the more reason to assume it already exists. If so, I'm curious how close this rough version is the established one.
    (then again, if one does exist, maybe I've seen/read somewhere about it, and forgotten doing so, but am nonetheless drawing on that. It wouldn't be the first time. [SIZE=14px]
    Been there, done that. Then been there again several times, because apparently I never learn.

  • #2
    Schneb: It looks like people have been working on this, so maybe great minds think alike. This link is a little dated. Maybe we can find something more current.

    IMHO one thing that may be problematic is probability. For lack of a better term, natural disasters are regional. You and I will probably never have to prepare for a hurricane. RichFL will probably never have to prepare for an earthquake. People in Phoenix probably never have to prepare for a blizzard. Whatever region you live in has it's own unique natural disasters for which you need to be prepared. How that can be translated into a useful rating system I will leave to people much smarter than I am. There are some systems i e the utility companies can tell you how many people are without power. Local agencies can tell you which roads or bridges may be impassable. I'm not sure how that all gets compiled into a universal system. Good points, and good food for thought. From a preparedness, and emergency management standpoint it has been given some thought. Good things for us to think about as well.
    The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


    • #3
      Thanks for that--I saved a copy and will try to look up some of his articles, etc. If his version didn't catch on, maybe that's a sign that this isn't actually feasible or useful, but looks like he worked at a bit so it'd be interesting to see how far he got.
      Been there, done that. Then been there again several times, because apparently I never learn.