End of An Era: Category 6 to Close Shop This Month

June 10, 2020, 2:22 AM EDT

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Above: A NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Katrina approaching the Gulf Coast at 2115Z (5:15 pm EDT) on August 28, 2005. This website—just a few months old at the time, and then known as Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog—exploded in readership during the approach of Katrina. A few hours after the image above was collected, Jeff Masters warned, “I put the odds of New Orleans getting its levees breached and the city submerged at about 70%... I recommend that if you are trapped in New Orleans tomorrow, that you wear a life jacket and a helmet if you have them.” Our posts are archived in two groups: 2005-2017 and 2017-present.

After a run of 15 years, Category 6—originally Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog—will publish its final post on June 19, as The Weather Company shifts resources to other weather and climate efforts.

I’m tremendously sad to be leaving this platform and community that I have come to know and love during my five-plus years on board. When he launched this wunderground blog in 2005, Jeff established a high bar for accessible discussion of tropical cyclones, and eventually many other spheres of weather and climate. I learned a vast amount working with Jeff through his departure in the fall of 2019 (see my tribute to Jeff) and I hope I’ve met his high standards in keeping things going since then. I’ve also learned a great deal from the insights contributed by our pool of regular commenters. I am especially glad we’ve been able to give voice to the reality and gravity of human-caused climate change, and to stress society’s ability to turn the ship around—a task that’s incredibly daunting but not yet impossible.

I am also happy to announce that you will be able to follow Jeff and me at a new home. Jeff has agreed to take a new volunteer gig writing for the prestigious website Yale Climate Connections. His “Eye on the Storm” blog begins there today ("Sea-level rise likely to swallow many coastal mangrove forests") and he plans to perform his usual daily updates on Atlantic disturbances and named storms during the heat of the hurricane season. “Eye on the Storm” does not yet have a comment section, but that will get added in a few weeks (with our current moderators coming along for the ride!). The Yale Climate Connections site is transitioning to a new content management software system that will require tweaking to establish a commenting system like the current WU system.

I expect to be helping Jeff out at “Eye on the Storm” during big hurricanes, and I plan to contribute feature articles to Yale Climate Connections as well. You can also follow me on Twitter at @bhensonweather. Here's an announcement from YCC.

Weather Underground is not going away. The Weather Company, an IBM Business, which includes WU and weather.com, remains committed to advancing weather science and technology and covering the science behind climate and weather. I've enjoyed contributing to weather.com and working with my meteorologist and journalist colleagues on that excellent team over the last several years.

As you all know, there is no place quite like Category 6 in the weather world. Our loyal commenters and our fearless, incredibly dedicated team of moderators have kept the Disqus feed humming 24/7. When Jeff departed last fall, we discovered just how many people were inspired to study meteorology and/or launch careers in the weather/climate realm after following the posts and joining the commentary here. It’s so gratifying to know that Category 6 has made a difference in so many lives. I look forward to following that legacy in the great things to be accomplished by Cat 6 alumni. To cite just one example, Levi Cowan (@tropicaltidbits), who created the invaluable tropicaltidbits.com modeling site, is now on staff at the NOAA/AOML Hurricane Research Division. I’m also happy that we have served as a congenial meeting spot for weather enthusiasts from around the world (literally!).

A million thanks to all of you all for following our musings, explanations, speculations, and occasional goofiness all these years. A special thanks goes to our guest bloggers through the years—particularly the irreplaceable WU weather historian Christopher Burt (whose must-have book Extreme Weather is still available in its second edition)—and to our other colleagues who keep track of weather records around the world and have lent invaluable insights to Category 6, especially Maximiliano Herrera.

Please keep the positive dialogue going, however and wherever that might be. The world needs more people reaching across barriers and disciplines and finding common ground.

Take care and stay safe, everyone.


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Bob Henson

Bob Henson is a meteorologist and writer at weather.com, where he co-produces the Category 6 news site at Weather Underground. He spent many years at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and is the author of “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change” and “Weather on the Air: A History of Broadcast Meteorology.”


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