Following the events in Category 6: Day of Destruction, the superstorm that hit Chicago is continuing to grow in size and strength, with tornadoes hitting Paris and destroying the Eiffel Tower. Judith Carr (Gina Gershon), the new head of FEMA struggles to coordinate efforts to prepare for the aftermath of the storm and provide aid to ravaged areas. She calls in her former college lover, Dr. Ross Duffy (Cameron Daddo), and her father Senator Ryan Carr (Robert Wagner) to help her try to determine what is causing the storms and how to deal with the political issues. "Tornado Tommy" (Randy Quaid), who survived his seeming death in the previous film, returns to aid in tracking the storm in the United States, assisted by scientist Faith Clavell (Shannen Doherty). Similar storms are developing around the country and an interaction between urban heat islands and "falling chunks of mesosphere" fuels the storms making it more powerful. Hurricane Eduardo strikes toward Florida, while the Category 6 storm hits Buffalo and heads towards New York City.
During these catastrophic events, two Christian fundamentalists (James Brolin and Swoosie Kurtz) fake the arrival of the plagues of Egypt to lure in new converts, culminating in their kidnapping of the first-born children of Judith Carr and other high-ranking officials. When Tommy and Faith get their data to FEMA in New York, Judith realizes that Hurricane Eduardo is heading towards Washington, D.C. and the Category 6 storm in New York is heading in the same direction. When both storms collide with the mesosphere, it turns into a "Category 7" hurricane, obliterating anything in its path. The force of the storm is so massive, that a category 7 could potentially cause a global catastrophe, possibly leading to the apocalypse.
The miniseries was produced by von Zerneck/Sertner Films, which also produced Category 6. It was filmed at various locations around Winnipeg, Canada and the Canadian air force base 17 Wing was used for the fictional version of Biloxi, Mississippi's Keesler Air Force Base. Air force members were tapped as extra by the production company to play the United States Air Force members seen during the film. The air force base commander noted that the filming helped to boost the local economy, due to the $600,000 in salaries generated during filming, but did not cause interfering with operations or security at the base.
David Price, the weather man for CBS's The Early Show who was given a cameo role in Category 6, returned for another cameo in Category 7. In this film, Price appears in a brief scene as a reporter who questions the character Judith Carr about bringing her former lover, Dr. Duffy, in to help with the storm issue. In an interview for his own show, Price said it took him a lot of practice to deliver his "crucial line" just right, with it taking four hours to shoot the brief scene. Director Dick Lowry jokingly noted that his biggest mistake in the film was giving Price the key line in that scene.
Category 7 was initially aired on CBS as a two-part, four-hour miniseries. The first part aired on Sunday, November 6, 2005. The second part aired a week later.
The miniseries was released to DVD by Echo Bridge Entertainment on April 4, 2006 on a single disc. On March 4, 2008, Echo Bridge released the film as a two movie set with another disaster film, 10.5: Apocalypse. This was later followed by an April 2008 release of the film to Blu-ray, and a July 2008 Blu-ray release of the two movie pack.
Category 7 was the top rated network miniseries in 2006. The first part of the miniseries came in number 16 among the top 25 network programs aired in the week of October 31-November 6, and was the second most watched program for that Sunday with 14.7 million viewers. The second part of the film was also the second most watched program for its timeslot on November 13, with 13.85 million viewers.
The film was nominated for multiple awards in 2006, including a Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special." It was nominated for a Saturn Award for "Best Television Presentation", a Cinema Audio Society Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Movies and Mini-Series", and two Golden Reel Awards for "Best Sound Editing in Television Long Form — Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement" and "Best Sound Editing in Television Long Form — Sound Effects & Foley."
Before Category 7 aired, CBS was criticized for choosing to air the miniseries only months after two devastating hurricanes, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, hitting the United States, and a third, Hurricane Wilma, causing destruction in Florida in the same month the film was slated to première.
The film received mixed reviews from critics, with many critics feeling that the first portion of the film was weak and confusing due to the large number of characters being introduced at once. SciFi.com's Kathie Huddleston considered the film to be "a pretty good disaster movie as disaster movies go", praising the overall acting, particularly the chemistry between Shannen Doherty and Randy Quaid, while criticizing it for having a weak opening, having a large, confusing number of characters, and for the inclusion of too many "silly things that distract", including most of the Fundamentalist plague and kidnapping subplot.
Category 7 holds together better than either of last year's disaster minis, Category 6 or NBC's 10.5. While I'd absolutely love it if the writers didn't feel they had to resort to kidnapped teenagers and poisonous frogs when other storm-related drama would make so much more sense, Category 7 kind of brought me back to the good old days of the Poseidon Adventure and Earthquake. Ah, the memories. Back then they really knew how to make a disaster flick warm the cockles of your heart.