A hurricane is known for causing extensive damage to an area. These natural disasters are measured in strength, and that strength is measured in categories.
How Is a Hurricane’s Strength Measured?
The National Hurricane Center has information on the scale used to measure a hurricane’s strength, which is the SAFFIR-SIMPSON Hurricane Wind Scale. It bases the ranking on the hurricane’s maximum sustained wind speed. This page explains the five categories surrounding hurricanes and how to identify which one an area is experiencing.
A category 1 hurricane will have sustained winds at 74-95 miles per hour. This type of hurricane doesn’t tend to cause major damage to structures compared to the rest. People can expect damage to tree foliage, shrubbery, unanchored mobile homes, and poorly constructed signs or structures.
The storm surge goes from 4′ to 5′ above regular tide levels. People can also expect inundations in low-lying coastal roads, as well as minor pier damage. Some very dangerous winds could cause some damage to power lines/poles, causing power outages.
Category 2 hurricanes involve “extremely dangerous winds” that can cause considerable damage. A few homes can sustain major roof/siding damage. People can also expect fallen trees to block numerous roads.
It features winds of 96-110 miles per hour. The storm surge goes from 6′ to 8′ above regular tide levels. Power outages can last for several days once the storm passes. It’s possible that shoreline residential areas and low-lying areas may need evacuation.
Category 3 hurricanes have winds from 111 to 130 miles per hour. It’s considered to cause “devastating damage” to even well-constructed framed homes. They can sustain severe damage. Trees can snap and block numerous roads, and it’s possible for a power outage to last for a few days or weeks.
People can expect mobile homes to get destroyed. Small buildings could also get structural damage. Storm surge can go from 13′ to 17′ above regular tide levels. Residences within 500 yards of the beach and/or single-story properties on low grounds within 2 miles of shore may need to be evacuated.
Category 3, 4, and 5 are considered “major hurricanes.”
This tropical storm can cause “catastrophic damage” to roofing materials, doors, and windows. Small buildings can expect complete failure of the roof. People can expect trees and signs to be blown down, as well as power poles downed. Storm surge can go from 13′ to 17′ above regular tide levels.
Fallen power poles and/or trees could isolate residential areas, and the damage and power outages could cause the area to be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Category 4 wind speeds go from 130 to 155 miles per hour.
Category 5 hurricanes involve wind speeds greater than 155 miles per hour. As in the previous category, people can expect catastrophic damage. This includes the destruction of framed homes and commercial/industrial buildings, total roof failure, wall collapse, and more. Small homes could be blown away or overturned.
Storm surge will be more than 18′ above regular tide levels. Fallen power poles and trees could isolate residential areas. Residential areas on low grounds within 5-10 miles of shore may need to be evacuated as soon as possible.