Hurricane Category Ratings . . .

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The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Hurricanes are called hurricanes when a tropical storm has wind speeds which reach 74 miles per hour or more. However . . . that’s just a category 1, hurricanes are categorized in order to identify the amount of damage which is likely to be caused by the hurricane.

Hurricanes are categorized by a scale called “The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale” . . . it’s all about the strength of the wind even though it isn’t actually the wind which usually causes the most damage. More lives are lost and damage occurs due to the floods which accompany a hurricane. Slow moving hurricanes can produce exceptionally heavy rainfall which can lead to flooding, landslides and mud slides. Flash floods are always a danger too, and the storm surge particularly along the coastal regions can cause damage many miles inland. If a river or stream is flooded this can last for many days, even well after the hurricane storm has passed.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

  • Category 1 Hurricane – expect sustained winds of between 74 and 95 miles per hour. These dangerous winds can cause serious amounts of damage including minor damage to the exterior of property, uprooting some smaller trees (Hurricane Floyd managed to uproot 19 million of them and that was a category 1) and extensive damage to power lines resulting in substantial loss of power. Road signs will be at risk as will un-anchored mobile homes. The storm surge in a category 1 hurricane is between 4 and 5 feet.
  • Category 2 Hurricane – with sustained wind speeds of between 96 and 110 miles per hour you can expect some serious damage, with major damage to the exterior of homes, many small trees becoming uprooted and blocking roads and loss of power for sustained periods of time . . . maybe days or even weeks. Storm surge for a category 2 hurricane is 6 to 8 feet high.
  • Category 3 Hurricane – the winds are getting stronger and stronger with sustained speeds of between 111 and 130 miles per hour. Devastating amounts of damage are associated with a category 3 hurricane with lots of trees becoming uprooted and blocking roads, extensive damage to property and little or no availability of electricity and water. A storm surge of between 9 and 12 feet often accompanies a category 3 hurricane.
  • Category 4 Hurricane – with winds of between 131 and 155 miles per hour you can expect complete devastation to accompany a category 4 hurricane. Many structures will be destroyed including walls and roof, residential areas will become isolated and blocked off because of the massive amounts of debris and power outages will last for weeks or even for months.  Storm surge for a category 4 hurricane is 13 to 18 feet high.
  • Category 5 Hurricane – wind speeds exceeding 155 miles per hour, a very high percentage of homes which get caught up in a category 5 hurricane will be destroyed, rendering many areas completely uninhabitable. Those areas will are still habitable are likely to be isolated without power or water for eeks or even months. Storm surges exceeding 18 feet can be expected in a category 5 hurricane.

Scary stuff isn’t it?

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