Category 6 Hurricane – Are You Kidding?

The home page on Drudge has this tantalizing headline: Wilma’s Rage Suggests New Hurricane Categories Needed. It links to an article at

In a season that has included three Category 5 hurricanes for the first time on record in the Atlantic Basin, scientists are beginning to wonder if their rating system is adequate, LiveScience has learned.

I think this entirely misses the point. We’re talking about warning people. What will Category 6 imply that Category 5 doesn’t? It’s the difference between being hit by a truck and train. At some point there is difference without distinction.

“Yeah, I was going to sit this one out on the porch, until I heard it was a Category 6.” C’mon!

We already measure pressure and wind speed. At sea you can throw in wave height. There’s no shortage of quantifiable parameters in a hurricane.

Adding a sixth category to the Saffir-Simpson scale will do nothing to help people. It will make hurricane watching much more like the Guinness Book of World Records.

Even Saffir (I had no idea there was still a Mr. Saffir) disagrees.

Herbert Saffir, defended it as simple and useful for the public.

“As simple as it is, I like the scale,” Saffir said today. “I don’t like to see it too complex.”

I’m with Herb.

3 thoughts on “Category 6 Hurricane – Are You Kidding?”

  1. Don’t mean to monopolize the board-

    But this reminds me of that scene in Spinal Tap where the guy had a volume dial on his amp that went beyond 10- he could “turn it up to 11” to make it really loud.

  2. In Watership Down, they talk about how rabbits cannot count above four, and the word ‘fiver’ refers to anything greater than four.

    I think five categories are more than enough. Perhaps people should think about the adjectives they would use to differentiate between storms. Really bad and Really Really bad?

    It makes me think of the ‘LR guide to the new newswriting’ which is getting a lot of discussion on blogs these days.

    Check out and see if you can come up with the meteorological equivalent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *