What are the Different Categories of Hurricanes? Get the details here!

In last week’s piece, we talked about the different types of tropical weather conditions; tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes. Tropical depressions, given the right conditions, can evolve into tropical storms, which can further evolve into full-fledged hurricanes.

Today we would like to explore hurricanes and the different categories of hurricanes.

What is a hurricane?

A hurricane is defined as a rotating low-pressure weather system that generates maximum wind speeds of 74mph and is accompanied by large amounts of rainfall. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes hurricanes from 1-5, starting with Category 1. The severity of its effects increases considerably as it progresses.

What do these categories mean?

Category 1 – Category 1 hurricanes contain sustained wind speeds of 74-95mph accompanied by rainfall. These wind speeds are strong enough to damage roofing, shingles, gutters and tree branches. Flooding may also occur due to excessive rainfall.

Category 2 – Category 2 hurricanes are stronger, clocking in at 96-110mph accompanied by heavy rainfall. These conditions can cause major damage to roofing and uproot young/small trees. Power outages are common during a Category 2 hurricane due to damaged power lines and poles. Flooding may also occur due to excessive rainfall.

Category 3 – 111-129mph wind speeds and heavy rainfall. This category of hurricane has a high possibility of causing major damage to roofing and buildings, as well as flattening and uprooting of trees. Flooding is almost certain due to levels of rainfall. In addition, access to water and electricity can be lost for weeks based on the level of damage incurred.

Category 4 – Wind speeds of 130-156mph and torrential rainfall is common during a Category 4 hurricane. Even homes that are well-built can sustain massive structural and roofing damage. Uprooting of trees and flattening of vegetation also occurs, with loss of water and electricity for weeks or even months based on the level of damage.

Category 5 – Destructive wind speeds of 157mph and higher and consistently heavy rainfall which leads to flooding in many areas. This Category of hurricane is the highest and the most dangerous. The strongest and most well-built of homes will not survive; total destruction of roofing and structural damage to walls. Access to utilities such as water, electricity and telecommunications can be lost for weeks or months based on the level of damage incurred.

At the heel of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian experienced in  Bahamas a few weeks ago, it is more important than ever to be familiar with what each category of hurricane represents and the accompanying danger so that you may sufficiently prepare yourself and your family.

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Thanks for joining us for this week’s segment on the different categories of hurricanes. Join us again next week for more!

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