Meteorologists rely on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to determine the magnitude of a hurricane’s impact. This scale does not measure the potential for other hurricane related problems that could occur. Meaning that events and activities like a sudden storm surge, tornadoes or floods caused but the amount of rainfall cannot be determined by this and other measures must be taken.
To understand the impact of a hurricane it helps to have a general understanding of what the different categories mean. It will give you a better idea of what to watch out for when predictions are made.
- Category 1: Winds range from 74-95 mph and will most likely cause some minor damage. In most cases injuries are very isolated and not common. Most windows stay intact. There could be some minor roof and frame damage to homes and buildings and you also may experience brief power outages.
- Category 2: Winds range from 96-11o mph. With these winds you will see some extreme damage to property. With the higher wind speeds the threat to people and animals will increase. Of course whenever there is threat of a hurricane or any extreme weather you want to try at all costs to remain inside. You will see more significant damage to homes, apartment complexes, shopping plazas, mobile homes, office buildings and other free-standing structures. You may experience longer lasting power outages, extreme flooding and loss of road use. If you know a hurricane is heading your way try to have a good hurricane survival kit ready and plenty of non-perishable foods.
- Category 3: Winds range from 111-130 mph and will cause a significant amount of damage. Property, people and animals are at high risk in these winds. Category 3 hurricanes can cause extensive flooding and extreme damage to even the strongest build structures. Poorly built homes and mobile homes are often destroyed. Shopping centers, apartment buildings and office buildings are also at high risk of severe damage. It is not uncommon to go without electricity and water for several days after a hurricane of this magnitude.
- Category 4: Winds range from 131-155 mph. You will see catastrophic damage when this hits. Even the strongest of buildings can be completely destroyed or sustain extensive irreparable damage. Weeks, even months of no power and water can go by.
- Category 5: Winds or at or greater than 156 mph. No one should be near this storm and hopefully all surrounding areas are evacuated. When it reaches this level it will be catastrophic. Most buildings will be destroyed as well as anything else in this storms path. Most of the area will be inhabitable for several months.