Hurricane Categories, What do they Mean?

hurricane category

Florida is prone to witnessing a particularly destructive hurricane season, so if you happen to live in the Sunshine State, it is worth familiarizing yourself with how the tropical storms are categorized and what they can mean for you.  

The hurricane season is recognized as starting on June 1st, and it generally lasts until November 30th, with peaks usually occurring in both August and September. During this six-month period, staying safe and getting prepared for the worst is vital.  

Below you will find a breakdown of the various hurricane categories in more detail; it is worth having a read for anyone wishing to take a preemptive approach to the situation.  

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale 

The scale used to categorize hurricanes is called the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, and it operates on a numerical basis of 1-5, 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest.  

The scale in its current form, established in 2010, uses the height of a hurricane’s wind to deliver a result.  

Category 1  

Despite being the lowest category on the scale, a number 1 hurricane is still dangerous, and it can cause some severe property damage.  

A category 1 hurricane usually has peak wind speeds of up to 95 miles per hour, with a minimum peak of 75mph.  

These wind speeds are enough to damage roofs, topple power lines and potentially cause flooding near the water.  

Category 2  

Category 2 hurricanes boast windspeeds between 96 and 110 miles per hour, meaning they have the potential to cause serious harm.  

Hurricane Sally is a prime example of a devastating category 2 hurricane. Initially category 1, the storm intensified and moved into a more dangerous classification.  

Cities hit with a category 2 hurricane could experience wide power outages that stick around for many weeks.  

Category 3  

Hurricane Katrina was a particularly disastrous category 3 storm that affected millions of people across the states and beyond.  

Category 3 hurricanes tend to cause extreme damage, blowing entire roofs off of buildings, toppling trees, and causing flooding even on the second and third floors of properties (due to the storm surge, a phenomenon that occurs when a storm causes water to rise unusually). 

Their wind speeds reach 130mph, achieving a minimum of 111mph, usually resulting in a designation of ‘major hurricane’. 

Category 4 

Category 4 hurricanes are known to cause catastrophic damage to the affected area, resulting in immense structural harm to buildings, often removing roofs entirely. Hurricane Irma back in 2017 was a category 4 hurricane.  

Category 4 hurricanes will likely render an area uninhabitable for months on end, causing wide power outages, unprecedented flooding, and the complete destruction of property.  

It is vital that you keep your important documents safe should you be faced with the threat of any hurricane, and it is worth noting that a category 4 hurricane could prevent you from returning to your home for a while, so make sure you can access the information you need digitally, for example, insurance policies, deeds, etc. 

Category 5  

The strongest hurricanes fall into category 5, and they are likely to cause the destruction of property and cause severe flooding even on the higher levels of buildings. 

Hurricane Rita in 2005 was a category 5 hurricane, and it caused the total destruction of many commercial buildings.  

Category 5 hurricanes reach wind speeds of 157 miles per hour plus, causing smaller buildings to blow away entirely.  

Hurricanes at this scale can be unimaginably catastrophic, so it is crucial that you know how to prepare yourself if they begin to occur.  

If you have any questions regarding repairs and restoration following a hurricane strike, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we are here to help.  

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