The difference between Hurricane wind scales and what measure of damage to expect in each category

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Understanding hurricane categories can be tricky.

We can expect storms declared in a higher category are more severe, but what does it actually mean?

Here are Hurricane categories and wind scales explained:

Category 1 Hurricane: Winds 74-95 mph

  • No real damage to building structures.
  • Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees.
  • Some damage to poorly constructed signs.

Category 2 Hurricane: Winds 96-110 mph

  • Some roofing material, door and window damage of buildings.
  • Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down.
  • Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs and piers.

Category 3 Hurricane: Winds 111-129 mph

  • Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures.
  • Damage to shrubbery and trees, with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down.
  • Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed.
  • Low-lying escape routes are cut off by rising water 3-5 hours before the arrival of the center of the hurricane.
  • Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris.

Category 4 Hurricane: Winds 130-156 mph

  • More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences.
  • Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down.
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes.
  • Extensive damage to doors and windows.

Category 5 Hurricane: Winds greater than 156 mph

  • Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings.
  • Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away.
  • All shrubs, trees, and signs are blown down.
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes.
  • Severe and extensive window and door damage.