The Category rating is linked to the highest one-minute sustained winds that are found somewhere in the storm...this does not mean that the entire area that the storm passed over experienced these highest sustained-wind conditions. Also, wind gusts do not count towards the Category rating. It is very possible to receive a high gust even with a Cat 1 storm.
The newspaper article is entirely consistent with the Cat 3 rating, acknowledging, essentially, that somewhere possibly in the everglades there was a small area on the coast that did experience sustained Cat 3 winds, but also entirely correct in stating that no instruments in any of the areas of SFL recorded anything but Cat 1 sust winds, and if Cat 2 sust winds were experienced, it was likely over a very small area of SFL.
Note that with Dennis there was only one instrument that recorded one-minute sust winds supporting Dennis's Cat rating at landfall, and that there were some places where Dennis's strongest winds did not drop down to ground level, so that many places did not experience high winds with Dennis, but nevertheless the Cat rating was valid.
Now I was very put out with the AOML wind analysis for Katrina and even posted the same somewhere else on the board...haven't even had time to go correct the gross error I made in the post, which was some of the diagrams used mph and some kts. Now even with that adjustment, the wind gusts measured by NWS stations for Katrina do seem to indicate sustained windspeeds a little higher than the AOML model, but over time I have changed my mind and believe that the model is much closer to truth than I believed at first. My main disagreement with the model is that I believe right on the coast the higher winds that are just offshore are experienced and that the friction with land builds up over the first say 1/2 mile to 1 1/2 mile inland. The feedback I had received about extreme wind damage was actually very close to the coast, much closer than I had realized at first, less than a 1/2 mile from the coast.
So overall I do not have a problem with the AOML model except it may be a little low, but not a whole lot, certainly not an entire Cat rating.
Katrina's Surge: http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/Katrinas_surge_contents.asp