This is just a quick post to suggest an answer to the question posed by Greg Laden here: should we have a category 6 and above for hurricanes. My answer is no.
I say this in agreement with many of the points expressed in Greg’s post, mainly that category 5 basically means total destruction and for all practical purposes what is the difference between flattened like a dirt road or flattened like a paved one? But in acknowledgment of the other arguments and points of view, I would suggest further categories into the higher wind speeds in the form of Category 5A, 5B, 5C etc. It seems to me this would satisfy all concerns on both sides with regard to distinguishing between increasing extremes of measured wind speeds and not diluting the “run for your life” message category 5 is supposed to deliver.
Getting into the weeds a bit further, it is a very valid additional issue that wind speed is not the whole story, and very often not even the most important part of the story. Anyone remember how Katrina was “only” a category 3 hurricane when it made landfall? Super Storm Sandy was a mere category 2 when out at sea getting ready to pound the eastern seaboard. Not much to worry about in those instances I guess. Wrong. In addition to destructive winds, hurricanes bring storm surges and tremendous rainfall, both of which can pack a worse destructive punch than the direct effects of wind.
So perhaps we should assess a hurricane on at least two additional impact factors: storm surge and rainfall and thus categorize them in three independent ways. If so, it should be consistent, 1 to 5, plus 5A to 5-what’s the point again??
What do others think?
(Update: Eli Rabett asks the same question)