hurricane category - high wind speeds blowing trees in storm

Hurricane Prepardness: What Does Each Hurricane Category Mean?

Life in South Florida certainly has its perks, however there is one glaring issue that every homeowner and business owner should be aware of: hurricane season. Every year from July 1st through November 30th, South Floridians must hunker down as storm after storm makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean towards Florida. These storms bring torrential downpours, heavy winds, and hazardous conditions everywhere you turn. 

Typically, hurricanes are categorized by specified hurricane levels. These hurricane levels, or categories, are typically determined exclusively by their sustained wind speeds without breaking up or weakening. 

What many people don’t realize is that even the weakest of storms can cause overwhelming damage in its wake. Hurricanes should not be taken lightly, so it’s important to be aware of the different hurricane levels and what they mean. 

Hurricane Levels And The Damage They Can Cause

Tropical Depression: This is the very first stage of the hurricane life cycle in the Atlantic Ocean. Winds start to become organized in a cyclical pattern, and can range from 100-300 miles in diameter. The tropical depression must sustain itself for at least 24 hours. Wind speeds can reach up to 38 miles per hour. Tropical depressions bring with them the potential for heavy rains and strong winds which can cause minor flooding and property damage. 

Tropical Storm: The next step up from a tropical depression, a tropical storm is the classification right before a storm reaches hurricane levels. Wind speeds range from 39 miles per hour to 73 miles per hour.  Tropical storms can lead to light roof damage, property damage, downed trees, as well as down power lines. 

Hurricane Category 1: The first stage of being categorized as a hurricane, category 1 hurricanes have wind speeds that range from 74 miles per hour to 95 miles per hour. Fast winds can pick up debris and launch it towards your home, in conjunction with the damages that can come with a tropical storm. Increased rainfall can lead to heavier flooding through the streets.

Hurricane Category 2: Category 2 hurricanes have wind speeds between 96 miles per hour and 110 miles per hour. Well built homes and commercial buildings will start losing parts of their roofs and siding. Trees will be knocked down, and power lines will suffer extensive damage. 

Hurricane Category 3: With wind speeds between 111 miles per hour and 130 miles per hour, category 3 hurricanes can and will cause serious damage in its path. Category 3 hurricanes can and will cause devastating damage, with roofs ripped right off homes and commercial buildings alike. Families can be without water or power for days or even weeks. A staggering loss of life can occur during a category 3 hurricane. 

Hurricane Category 4: During a category 4 hurricane, you can expect wind speeds between 130 to 156 miles per hour. These storms will cause catastrophic damage, destroying buildings completely. The area in its path can be uninhabitable for weeks to months.

Hurricane Category 5: Category 5 hurricanes have wind speeds of 157 miles per hour and above. There will be near total destruction in its wake. The area will be completely uninhabitable for months. There will be major flooding along with the catastrophic winds.

Make no mistake: While it may seem like Category 3 and above should be the storms to fear over, you should be prepared for any storm on this list. Take the first step in defending your family and your home today with impact windows. Learn more about how impact windows can protect you against heavy storms year after year by contacting us online today.