Barf-o-Meter Development

superferry.gifInvestigator Larry Geller writes from Oahu, Hawaii:

To the best of my knowledge, no one has attempted to relate the probability of vomiting to wind speed and wave heights before. Faced with predictable passenger reaction aboard a ferry that runs daily between the Hawaii islands of Oahu and Maui despite high seas and wind (see this blog post, and linked newspaper story in the December 14, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser), a few Maui residents have developed a prototype Barf-o-Meter Index so that passengers might have a way to gauge whether they should bring lots of Dramamine with them, wear old clothes, etc.

The Index was developed principally by Brad Parsons and Dick Mayer of Maui, based on volunteer reports and news articles. Source data is from a National Weather Service forecast.

Here is the index:


CODE PROSPECT (Wind + Wind Height
Wave x 4) (KNOTS) (FEET)

Level 1 – White Possible Puking 0 to 24 0 to 12 knots 0 to 2.5 ft

Level 2 – Yellow Scattered Puking 25 to 36 13 to 16 knots 3 to
Level 3 – Orange Probable Puking 37 to 53 17 to 21 knots 5 to 7.5 ft

Level 4 – Red Definite Puking 54 to 85 22 to 25 knots 8 to 14.5 ft

Level 5 – Purple Widespread Puking 86 to 114 26 to 34 knots 15 to 19.5 ft

Level 6 – Black Guaranteed Puking 115 + 35 + 20 ft +
Unsafe Conditions
and/or Not Operating

(NOTE: The Beaufort Scale, which relates wind speed to sea surface conditions, provided a scaffold upon which this new scale could be constructed.)

UPDATE Feb 11, 2008: Investigator Brad Parsons reports the existence of (1) a refined version of the scale and (2) a video of the bouncing ferry that inspired it all.