Is there a need for a Category 6 on the hurricane scale? A recent climate study revealed that five storms have reached the threshold.

Is there a need for a Category 6 on the hurricane scale? A recent climate study revealed that five storms have reached the threshold.

As global temperatures

The trend of rising levels is ongoing, resulting in more severe storms.more intense

According to experts, the Saffir-Simpson scale, which gauges the wind speeds of hurricanes, may not fully consider the dangers of severe storms. A recent study investigated the possibility of adding a Category 6 to the scale and concluded that this change could increase awareness of the escalating risks.

1/100th of a percent

A recent research, released on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that the measurement unit, developed in the 1970s and currently employed to represent 1/100th of a percent, remains valid.hurricane categories

The wind, despite its potential for destruction, has a limitation of reaching Category 5. This limitation is not proportional to its exponentially increasing destructive capability.

The levels of hurricane intensity range from 1 to 5, with Category 5 hurricanes having wind speeds of 156 mph or higher. This level of intensity can cause “catastrophic” destruction, including complete roof failure on homes and buildings, and prolonged power loss, according to NOAA.

The researchers, including the co-author James Kossin, studied the potential effects of redefining the categories for hurricanes and cyclones. This included considering a proposed change to include a Category 6 designation for storms with wind speeds above 192 mph. The goal was to improve risk communication to the public.

According to Wehner’s statement to CBS News, we discovered that five storms have surpassed the theoretical Category 6 status, all of which occurred in the past seven years since 2013.


Image from space showing Hurricane Patricia during October of 2015.

Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images

The most severe of the five storms was the most intense.Hurricane Patricia

The hurricane named Patricia reached its peak strength with wind speeds exceeding 200 mph before hitting Mexico in October 2015 as a Category 4 storm. According to the National Hurricane Center, Patricia rapidly intensified in a way rarely seen in tropical cyclones. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that the storm had maximum winds of 215 mph, which was almost 60 mph higher than the minimum requirement for a Category 5 classification.

According to the study, there have been other theoretical Category 6 storms in the Western Pacific.Typhoon Haiyan

According to the study, the typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013 was the most expensive and lethal storm in the country since the 1800s, well before the implementation of any significant warning systems.


According to a recent study, five storms have reached a theoretical wind intensity of Category 6 on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale. The triangles represent the storms that have reached these intensities.

Michael Wehner and James Kossin

The scientists also examined a cutting-edge climate measuring tool which evaluates potential intensity – in essence, a maximum speed limit for the strongest winds in an ideal storm, as explained by Wehner.

climate change

Wehner stated that the increase in global temperatures caused by the combustion of fossil fuels is linked to the intensity of hurricanes and tropical cyclones. He also mentioned that both himself and Kossin identify as conservative climate scientists.

According to him, the rise in temperature and moisture caused by climate change provides the necessary energy for hurricanes and tropical cyclones to form. Therefore, it is expected that the speed limit of these storms would also increase, which has been observed to be true.

According to the study conducted by Wehner and Kossin, there has been a noteworthy rise in wind speeds since 1982. They predict that this trend will continue as the Earth’s temperature continues to increase.

The researchers also conducted simulations using different global warming predictions and discovered that the likelihood of experiencing Category 6 storms has significantly risen and will continue to do so due to the effects of climate change.

Previous research has also examined a hypothetical scenario.

Rewording of the Saffir-Simpson scale expansion

In 2019, Jeff Masters, a former NOAA hurricane hunter and meteorologist, stated that the current system for categorizing hurricanes is insufficient. He proposed adding a Category 6 for storms with wind speeds of 180 to 185 mph and a Category 7 for those with winds of at least 210 mph.

According to a blog post on Scientific American, any attempt to increase the Saffir-Simpson scale would need to be initiated by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). However, the experts at the NHC do not currently support this change. In terms of public safety and warning, those at the NHC believe that adding a category 6 would not be beneficial, as a category 5 hurricane is already classified as catastrophic.

Wehner acknowledged the Saffir-Simpson scale

Many have voiced concerns about the use of the hurricane category scale as the sole factor in determining the severity of a storm. While wind speed is an important indicator of a storm’s potential danger, it fails to consider the potential damage caused by the storm’s size and the accompanying storm surge and flooding. Wehner’s study does not address these other critical factors in measuring hurricane impact.

Wehner suggests that hurricane risks should be more thoroughly considered when discussing the risk of a storm.

According to an interview with CBS News, a singular number does not accurately convey the full extent of risk for a potential hurricane if you are in its projected path. It is important to understand the specific dangers that may be present.

The researchers stated in their publication that they are not suggesting modifications to the current scale, but rather aiming to bring attention to the fact that hurricanes classified as category 5 are becoming more frequent and will continue to do so. Introducing a sixth category to the scale could increase awareness about the potential changes in wind intensity of storms in the future and how this, combined with other hazards, may affect communities.

According to Wehner, the severity of the storm surge is directly correlated to the strength of the wind. Additionally, there will be a significant increase in rainfall regardless of the wind strength. In terms of global warming, it is difficult to quantify the specific risk it poses in the long run, but the current scale is deemed appropriate.

Wehner has also faced criticism for proposing a larger scale, with some questioning the significance of a Category 6 and whether it diminishes the importance of a Category 3 storm.

“Of course it does,” he replied. “Just because the most severe storms are more intense, it doesn’t mean that less severe storms aren’t still significant.”