Hurricane Ratings - Debates

Hurricane Ratings have come into questions as Ivan spent a great deal of time as a Category 5. I'm opening this thread to accomodate the small debate which is growing among Hurricane watchers.

**EDIT** Focusing this discussion on whether Hurricane's actually are as strong as they're reported.
I see no problem with the ratings, FWIW


[edit] Maybe that's a little too ambiguous......
I believe the ratings are sound, but the measurement methodology suspect.
Australia uses a 5 category rating system, excpet it is based on the highest wind gust, not highest sustained.
What I think would be helpful is to see some different hurricane models to try to understand what the temporal and spatial variations in the wind fields should be, and see if the observations out there a) are reasonably consistent with some model and B) allow inferences to be made about the unmeasured parts of the hurricane that corroborate the max intensity forecasts/estimates. Ie, make some attempt at verifying the hurricane forecasts.

Another thing I want to know more about is: how reliable are the observations themselves? How reliable are the wind measurements made by buoys and dropsondes? How reliable are satellite-based intensity estimates? What methods are available and what efforts have been made to determine these things?

Lastly, are we getting the right forecast products? Everyone seems to fixate so strongly on the max sustained winds, but it seems that in most cases these winds affect very few people. It might be more relevant to have some sort of wind/probability distribution graphic, where you can see the max wind speeds specific locations are likely to experience - maybe the state of forecasting doesn't yet permit this, but there has to be a better way to get people focused on a realistic expectation of what can happen in their areas.

This is really annoying, this same topic is being discussed in two different threads. Somebody please fix this.
This is really annoying, this same topic is being discussed in two different threads. Somebody please fix this.

Somehow the conversation got separated into one thread about ground observations and another about classification debates. I had intended to start a more general discussion about the relationships between observations and reality in hurricanes, and to try to find out more about how pictures of reality are constructed from those observations and how accurate those pictures are. I guess the title of my thread was misleading; I apologize for any confusion. If anyone is interested in a discussion along the lines I just mentioned, shoot me a PM and I'll start a new thread with a more appropriate title.