Two scientists have proposed expanding the system that categorizes hurricanes by creating a Category 6 designation to identify the monsters that may come. Via HuffPost:
In a new paper, Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and James Kossin, a distinguished science adviser at the First Street Foundation, write that the current system to measure hurricanes presents no upper bound beyond Category 5. In a world where climate change has been linked to stronger storms, the pair found that a sixth level of the Saffir-Simpson Scale could have already been applied to deadly and destructive storms that formed in the Pacific in recent years.
“Our motivation here is to reconsider how the open-endedness of the scale can lead to an underestimation of risk, and, in particular, how this underestimation becomes increasingly problematic in a warming world,” the researchers wrote. “Storm intensities well above the category-5 threshold are being realized, and record wind speeds will likely continue to be broken as the planet continues to warm.”
The paper, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, identifies the bounds of what could be a Category 6 hurricane with sustained winds of more than 192 mph.
The scientists found five storms in the last decade that would have exceeded that threshold, two of which hit the Philippines, including the devastating 2013 Typhoon Haiyan.