Hurricane Dorian is a storm for the record books, having set new milestones for the strongest hurricane at landfall, based on its 185-mile-per-hour winds (tied for that spot with the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane), and second-strongest hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic based on wind speed alone.
Yet President Donald Trump seemed to be baffled by how a hurricane could reach Category 5 intensity, which is the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which has been in widespread use since 1974.
On Sunday, Trump expressed his shock at Hurricane Dorian's intensity, saying:
"I'm not sure I've ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed. And I've seen some Category 4s. You don't even see them that much. But a Category 5 is something that, uh, I don't know that I've never even heard the term, other than I know it's there. That's the ultimate. And that's what we have, unfortunately."
This isn't the first time Trump has expressed shock at a Category 5 storm. When Hurricane Irma struck Florida in 2017, for example, Trump said he "never even knew a Category 5 existed."
Then when Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle last year as a Category 5 storm, Trump again said he hadn't heard of a Category 5 storm.
Oddly, though, when it comes to Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico in 2017, obliterating the island's infrastructure, Trump has repeatedly called the storm a Category 5 when in fact it was a Category 4 storm at landfall.
He has also lambasted the island's government and repeatedly sought to hold back federal aid or tie it to government reforms, something he has not done in responding to natural disasters in other parts of the U.S.
Trump's ignorance of how hurricanes are classified would not be a problem if he were not the one in charge of hurricane response, making sure FEMA and other agencies are up to the task of aiding hard-hit areas.
If there were ever to be a president with intimate knowledge of what damage Category 5 storms can cause, it would be President Trump, given how many such storms have taken place during his presidency so far.
This makes his surprise at how powerful such storms can get even more odd, since four Cat 5′s have occurred on his watch - Irma, Maria, Michael and Dorian, though not all of these storms were Category 5 at landfall.
While it might seem like a harmless curiosity or blind spot, Trump's self-professed ignorance of Category 5 monsters could slow down the government's response to such disasters, or contribute to confusion at the highest levels of government as well as among people in harms' way if they hear mixed messages.
This year is the fourth straight year with a Category 5 in the Atlantic, the longest such streak on record. And climate studies show a trend toward more Category 4 and 5 storms in the future, along with more frequent instances of storms that rapidly intensify, which can complicate evacuation and storm preparation planning.
However, it's unlikely Trump will accept such climate findings, given his rejection of mainstream climate science to date.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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