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How Are Hurricanes Categorized?

Right now, we are in full hurricane season, which is bad news for many along the East Coast, who tend to be most at risk of heavy storms. Hurricane season typically begins on June 1st and lasts all the way until the 30th of November. So, there’s still a bit to go yet, which is why we thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit about how hurricanes are categorized.

We’re all used to hearing that so-and-so hurricane is Category 1,2,3, and so on. And we’re told that the higher the category, the worse the hurricane, and the more protection we need for our homes and ourselves.

But how are hurricanes categorized exactly, and what does each category mean?

Category 1

This is the mildest type of hurricane out there. It will usually tear down some trees, cause a bit of damage to the exterior of your home, and potentially your roof. Category 1 hurricanes are also often associated with flooding, and extensive damage to mobile homes, cars, and so on. They usually involve winds in the 74 – 95 MPH range, which is normally associated with minimal damage.

Category 2

Category 2 is used to signify extensive damage, with winds ranging from 96 to 110 MPH. This type of hurricane poses a more serious threat to homes, and can cause major external damage, as well as significantly impact your roof. It goes without saying that mobile homes and the like are even more affected, trees are more likely to be torn out of the ground, and the chances of heavy flooding are pretty high. Category 2 hurricanes can also result in power outages over large areas.

Category 3

Hurricanes in Category 3 range from 111 to 130 MPH, in terms of wind, and are classified as devastating damage. Typically, hurricanes Category 3 and up are considered major, and treated as a serious risk. They often cause serious damage to smaller buildings and homes and obliterate mobile homes altogether.

Category 4

From 131 to 155 MPH, Category 4 hurricanes are labeled as catastrophic, and are associated with roof collapse, major damage even to tall buildings, and serious flooding (as many of these will extend up to 13 feet). It’s also not uncommon for Category 4 hurricanes to extend inland quite heavily.

Category 5

Lastly, Category 5 hurricanes are also labeled as catastrophic, in terms of damage, and go from 156 MPH and up. Wind damage extends even further into the mainland, and you can expect heavy flooding to lower levels less than 15 feet above sea level. Trees usually don’t stand a chance, and entire buildings can be torn down.

What to do…

It’s important that you are prepared in the face of hurricanes. If you live in high-risk areas, we recommend taking all possible precautions (e.g., installing impact windows, ensuring your roofs in good condition, etc.) before you are facing a hurricane. Don’t overlook smaller scale hurricanes, as these can also cause extensive damage.

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