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How Are Hurricanes Categorized and What Are the Potential Damages?

Caution - Heavy Rain

It’s never too early to start preparing for hurricane season, which begins June 1. Your first step should be to learn the different hurricane categories, measured by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, and the potential damages each one can cause.

Hurricanes are classified by their maximum sustained wind speed. Every hurricane starts as a tropical depression, which moves at less than 38 miles per hour. If the wind speed continues to accelerate, it becomes a tropical storm with winds ranging from 38 to 73 mph. Even tropical depressions and tropical storms can be quite destructive and should be monitored closely in case they increase to hurricane status.

Category 1 Hurricanes – 74 to 95 mph

Homes and buildings in the path of a category 1 hurricane may sustain roof damage, tree limb loss and minor flooding. The potential for power outages is quite high, so it’s wise to keep extra food and water on hand. Better yet, install a backup generator so you don’t have to wait hours or days for power to be restored.

Note: Category 1 is the only classification that doesn’t always warrant evacuation. If you have emergency supplies on hand, you should be able to ride out the storm.

Category 2 Hurricanes – 96 to 110 mph

At this wind speed, major roof and siding damage is likely. These storms can also uproot shallow trees, which may topple onto roads and make recovery efforts difficult. Low-lying areas may flood, and power outages can easily last for a week or longer while the damage is being addressed.

Category 3 Hurricanes – 111 to 129 mph

Sustained winds at this speed are considered extremely hazardous. Any buildings in the storm’s path will suffer significant damage. Shingles may fly off buildings, and windows may shatter. Storm surges can wipe out structures near the coast, with flooding continuing far inland. The power might also be out for weeks.

Category 4 Hurricanes – 130 to 156 mph

It’s not uncommon for category 4 hurricanes to rip roofs, exterior walls and garage doors off buildings. Extensive flooding can carry large objects for miles and threaten the structures in its path. Sturdy trees may be uprooted, and the power can get knocked out for weeks or months.

Category 5 Hurricanes – 157 mph or more

The most powerful hurricanes pack a devastating punch. In the past 100 years, only 35 category 5 hurricanes have been documented, five of which have made landfall in the United States. These storms may gut or flatten buildings altogether. Widespread flooding can bury entire cities, making rescue efforts incredibly challenging. The affected areas are often uninhabitable for months.

If a hurricane has damaged your home or business, choose DKI as your skilled response team. Our hurricane restoration crew will be onsite within two hours of your call to provide safe, effective cleanup and restoration assistance. Our goal is to return your property to its pre-storm condition whenever possible. Contact us today to learn more or to request hurricane restoration from DKI.