Science

Here’s What Hurricane Categories Mean

Hurricane Ian It rapidly strengthened as a powerful Category 3 hurricane as it moved toward the west coast of Florida. Hurricanes are rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which includes five categories based on the hurricane’s sustained wind speed. It also estimates potential damage to property, ranging from “certain damage” to “catastrophic”.

If a hurricane is a Category 3, 4 or 5, it is considered a “major” hurricane because of the potential for “significant loss of life and damage,” says the National Hurricane Center. The center says that storms falling in Category 1 or 2 are still considered dangerous.

Here’s how the scale breaks down, according to the National Hurricane Center:

Category 5 (major storm)

Steady wind speed: 157 mph or more

  • ,Will cause catastrophic loss: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and electric poles will isolate the residential areas. Power outages will last from weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabited for weeks or months.”

Category 4 (major storm)

Steady wind speed: 130-156 mph

  • “The catastrophic damage would be: Well-built homes can tolerate severe damage with damage to most of the roof structure and/or some of the exterior walls. Most of the trees will be broken or uprooted and power poles will fall. Fallen trees and electric poles will isolate the residential areas. Power outages will last from weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabited for weeks or months.”

Category 3 (major storm)

Steady wind speed: 111-129 mph

  • “The catastrophic damage would be: Well-constructed framed homes can have major damage or require removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees would be broken or uprooted, blocking many roads. There will be no electricity and water for several days to weeks after the storm passes.”

Category 2

Steady wind speed: 96-110 mph

  • “Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-built frame homes can sustain large roofing and siding damage. Many shallow-rooted trees will be broken or uprooted and many will block roads. Almost total power loss is expected with outages lasting several days to weeks.”

type 1

Steady wind speed: 74-95 mph

  • “Very dangerous winds will cause some damage: Well-constructed frame homes can have damage to the roof, shingles, vinyl siding, and gutters. Large tree branches will break and shallow-rooted trees may fall. The potential for extensive damage to power lines and poles can lead to power outages that may last from a few days to several days.

Should there be a category 6?

in the middle of a unusually cruel In 2017’s continuation of the storm, there was some speculation about whether the storm could hit Category 6. is officially Category 6. nothing like hurricane. but the idea of ​​modifying or adding to the scale has been Some climate scientists discussed who believe that existing categories may not be fast enough to grow extreme storm in future.


This is an updated version of a story originally published on September 13, 2018.

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