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Word of the Week


Seismologists indicate the size of an earthquake in units of magnitude. There are many different ways that magnitude is measured from seismograms because each method only works over a limited range of magnitudes and with different types of seismometers. Some methods are based on body waves (which travel deep within the structure of the earth), some based on surface waves (which primarily travel along the uppermost layers of the earth), and some based on completely different methodologies. However, all of the methods are designed to agree well over the range of magnitudes where they are reliable.

Preliminary magnitudes based on incomplete but available data are sometimes estimated and reported. For example, the Tsumani Centers will calculate a preliminary magnitude and location for an event as soon as sufficient data is available to make an estimate. In this case, time is of the essence in order to broadcast a warning if tsunami waves are likely to be generated by the event. Such preliminary magnitudes, which may be off by one-half magnitude unit or more, are sufficient for the purpose at hand, and are superseded by more exact estimates of magnitude as more data become available.

Earthquake magnitude is a logarithmic measure of earthquake size. In simple terms, this means that at the same distance from the earthquake, the shaking will be 10 times as large during a magnitude 5 earthquake as during a magnitude 4 earthquake. The total amount of energy released by the earthquake, however, goes up by a factor of 32.

Fujita Scale
Rating the Severity of Tornadoes

The Fujita scale is used to rate the severity of tornadoes as a measure of the damage they cause. The scale was devised in 1971 by the Japanese-American meteorologist Tetsuya (Ted) Fujita. It classifies tornadoes using the following scale.

F0 - light winds of 64 to 116 km/hr; some damage to chimneys, TV antennas, roof shingles, trees, signs, and windows and accounts for about 28 percent of all tornadoes.

F1 - moderate winds of 117 to 180 km/hr; automobiles overturned, carports destroyed, and trees uprooted. F1 tornadoes account for about 39 percent of all tornadoes.

F2 - considerable winds of 181 to 252 km/hr; roofs blown off homes, sheds and outbuildings demolished, and mobile homes overturned. F2 tornadoes account for about 24 percent of all tornadoes.

F3 - severe winds of 253 to 330 km/hr; exterior walls and roofs blown off homes, metal buildings collapsed or severely damaged, and forests and farmland flattened. F2 tornadoes account for about six percent of all tornadoes.

F4 - devastating winds of 331 to 417 km/hr; few walls, if any, left standing in well-built homes; large steel and concrete missiles thrown great distances. F4 tornadoes account for about two percent of all tornadoes.

F5 - incredible winds of 418 to 509 km/hr; homes leveled or carried great distances. F5 tornadoes can cause tremendous damage to large structures such as schools and motels and can tear off exterior walls and roofs. Tornadoes of this magnitude account for less than one percent of all tornadoes. There has been one documented F5 in Canada, in Elie Manitoba on June 22, 2007. In addition, recent research suggests that historically as many as two may have occurred in Saskatchewan. F5 tornadoes are possible in Canada every summer.

Category One Hurricane: Sustained winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 km/hr). Damaging winds are expected. Some damage to building structures could occur, primarily to unanchored mobile homes (mainly pre-1994 construction). Some damage is likely to poorly constructed signs. Loose outdoor items will become projectiles, causing additional damage. Persons struck by windborne debris risk injury and possible death. Numerous large branches of healthy trees will snap. Some trees will be uprooted, especially where the ground is saturated. Many areas will experience power outages with some downed power poles. Hurricane Cindy (pdf) (2005, 75 mph winds at landfall in Louisiana) and Hurricane Gaston (2004, 75 mph winds at landfall in South Carolina) are examples of Category One hurricanes at landfall.

Category Two Hurricane: Sustained winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr). Very strong winds will produce widespread damage. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings will occur. Considerable damage to mobile homes (mainly pre-1994 construction) and poorly constructed signs is likely. A number of glass windows in high rise buildings will be dislodged and become airborne. Loose outdoor items will become projectiles, causing additional damage. Persons struck by windborne debris risk injury and possible death.. Numerous large branches will break. Many trees will be uprooted or snapped. Extensive damage to power lines and poles will likely result in widespread power outages that could last a few to several days. Hurricane Erin (1995, 100 mph at landfall in northwest Florida) and Hurricane Isabel (2003, 105 mph at landfall in North Carolina) are examples of Category Two hurricanes at landfall.

Category Three Hurricane: Sustained winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 km/hr). Dangerous winds will cause extensive damage. Some structural damage to houses and buildings will occur with a minor amount of wall failures. Mobile homes (mainly pre-1994 construction) and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Many windows in high rise buildings will be dislodged and become airborne. Persons struck by windborne debris risk injury and possible death. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks. Hurricane Rita (pdf) (2005, 115 mph landfall in east Texas/Louisiana) and Hurricane Jeanne (2004, 120 mph landfall in southeast Florida) are examples of Category Three hurricanes at landfall.

Category Four Hurricane: Sustained winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr). Extremely dangerous winds causing devastating damage are expected. Some wall failures with some complete roof structure failures on houses will occur. All signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes (primarily pre-1994 construction). Extensive damage to doors and windows is likely. Numerous windows in high rise buildings will be dislodged and become airborne. Windborne debris will cause extensive damage and persons struck by the wind-blown debris will be injured or killed. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted. Fallen trees could cut off residential areas for days to weeks. Electricity will be unavailable for weeks after the hurricane passes. Hurricane Charley (2004, 145 mph at landfall in southwest Florida) and Hurricane Hugo (1989, 140 mph at landfall in South Carolina) are examples of Category Four hurricanes at landfall.

Category Five Hurricane: Sustained winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr). Catastrophic damage is expected. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings will occur. Some complete building failures with small buildings blown over or away are likely. All signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes (built in any year). Severe and extensive window and door damage will occur. Nearly all windows in high rise buildings will be dislodged and become airborne. Severe injury or death is likely for persons struck by wind-blown debris. Nearly all trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Hurricane Camille (pdf) (1969, 190 mph at landfall in Mississippi) and Hurricane Andrew (1992, 165 mph at landfall in Southeast Florida) are examples of Category Five hurricanes at landfall.

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Garibbean Dictionary

The first in a series of four letter words commonly exchanged by skippers as their boats approach one another.
Low lying navigational hazard, usually awash, found at river mouths and harbour entrances, where it is composed of sand or mud, and ashore, where it is made of mahogany or some other dark wood. Sailors can be found in large numbers around both.
A Laterally mounted spar to which a sail is fastened, used during jibing to shift crew members to a fixed, horizontal position.
Discomfort suffered by sailors who drink too much.
A cramped, closet like compartment below decks where crew members may be stored – on their sides if large or on end if small – until needed.
Sea condition characterized by the simultaneous disappearance of the wind and the last cold beer
Narrow stretch of deep or dredged waterway bordered by buoys or markers that separates two or more grounded boats
Tidal flow that carries a boat away from it desired destination or toward a hazard.
Fitting Out
Series of maintenance tasks performed on boats ashore during good weather weekends in spring and summer months to make them ready for winter storage.
Rubber swimming aid worn on the feet. Usually available in two sizes, 3 and 17
Anything floating in the water from which there is no response when an offer of a cocktail is made.
The portion of an anchor that digs securely into the bottom: also, any occasion when this happens on the first try.
Generic term for any pieces of boating equipment that can be forgotten in the back-seat or boot of a car, left behind on a pontoon, soaked in the bottom of a dinghy or lost over the side of the boat.
Movable mountings often found on shipboards lamps, compasses etc which provide dieting passengers an opportunity to observe the true motions of the ship in relation to them, and thus prevent any recently ingested food from remaining in their digestive systems long enough to be converted into unwanted calories.
Embarrassing situation in which a sailor returns to shore without leaving his boat.
An opening in a deck leading to the cabin below with a cover designed to let water in while keeping fresh air out.
Hull speed
The maximum theoretical velocity of a given boat through the water, which is 1.5 times the square root of its waterline length in feet, divided by the distance to port in miles, minus the time in hours to sunset cubed.
Course change which causes the boom to sweep rapidly across the cockpit; also, frequent type of comment made by
observers of this manoeuvre.
A light line attached to a small article so that it can be secured somewhere well out of reach.
The direction in which objects, liquids and other matter may be thrown without risk of re encountering them in the immediate future.
Life jacket
Any personal flotation device that will keep an individual who has fallen off a vessel, above water long enough to be run over by it or another rescue craft.
The shorter aft mast on a yawl or ketch. Any mast that is no longer there.
Earth’s natural satellite. During periods when it displays a vivid blue color, sailing conditions are generally favorable.
Motor sailer
A hybrid boat that combines the simplicity and reliability of sail power with the calm and serenity of a throbbing engine.
Ocean racing
Demanding form of sailing practiced by sportsman whose idea of a good time is standing under an ice cold shower, fully clothed while re examining there last meal.
Basically a voyage from point A to point B, interrupted by unexpected landfalls or stopovers at point K, point Q, and point Z.
Harbour landing place that goes crack, crunch when hit
The art of getting lost in sight of land, as opposed to the distinct and far more complex science of navigation used to get lost in offshore waters.
1. Left on a boat.
2. A place you wish you never left on a boat.
Underwater winch designed to wind up at high speeds any lines left hanging over the stern.
Organized sailing competition that pits yours against your opponents’ luck.
The find art of getting wet and becoming ill while slowly going nowhere at great expense.
Satellite Navigation
Sophisticated electronic location method that enables sailors to instantly determine the exact latitude and longitude, within just a few feet, anywhere on the surface of the surface of the earth, of whatever it was they just ran aground on.
Single handed sailing
The only situation in which the skipper does not immediately blame the crew for every single thing that goes wrong
The rise and fall of ocean waters. There are two tides of interest to mariners: the ebb tide sailors encounter as they attempt to enter port and the flood tide they experience as they try to leave.
Horizontal spar mounted in such a way that when viewed from the cockpit, the sun is always over it


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