Re: 2012 Hurricane Season
I'm not real sure but I think they take an average reading of wind speed throughout the eyewall to come up with it's posted wind speed. For example, in the stronger side of the storm, say the northeast quadrant, the winds might be at 100 mph, easily cat. 2 strength, but in the weaker part of the strom, like the southwest quadrant, winds are only 70 mph. They then post it as an 85 mph cat. 1 storm. Rough example, but it works something like that because the winds are not the same throughout the eyewall.
That also doesn't take into account wind gusts. You can have a 90 mph sustained wind (cat.1), and have wind gusts up to 110 mph (cat.2) and it will still be a cat. 1 blow.
Yeah, a better rating system would be helpful, but you still need to know that hurricanes are dangerous no matter the classification. Slow moving hurricanes especially. As mentioned, Houston was devastated by a Tropical Storm about a decade ago that just sat on top of us for a couple of days.
Glad to hear you're safe, Beta!!!