Learn about the 5 hurricane categoriesWhat are the different hurricane categories? Find out how the power of a hurricane is categorized in weather.
The category of a hurricane gives you an idea of how strong the storm is. Storms with a higher category are more dangerous than lower ones although depending on where storms hit, a Category 3 storm may cause more damage than a Category 5. The name of the scale used to categorize hurricanes is the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
The rating of a storm is based on how strong the winds are, the barometric pressure of it (the lower the pressure the stronger), and it's storm surge. As you read on my "How do Hurricanes Form" page, you know that a storm becomes a hurricane when it passes the 74 MPH wind mark. This scale is only used for Atlantic and East Pacific Hurricanes. So let's break down the five categories.
- Pressure: Above 980 MB (millibars)
- Damage: Minimal (Shrubbery, trees, and mobile homes damaged. Low lying place can be flooded.)
- Storm surge: 3-5 feet
- Pressure: 979 - 965 MB (millibars)
- Damage: Moderate (Some trees blown down. Lots of damage to mobile homes and poorly constructed buildings.)
- Storm surge: 6-8 feet
- Pressure: 964 - 945 MB (millibars)
- Damage: Extensive (Damage to roofs, windows, and doors. Mobile homes destroyed. Extensive coastal flooding.)
- Storm surge: 9-12 feet
- Pressure: 944 - 920 MB (millibars)
- Damage: Extreme (Complete destruction of mobile homes. Structures near the coast will receive heavy damage due to heavy storm surge. Major beach erosion.)
- Storm surge: 13-18 feet
- Pressure: Below 920 MB (millibars)
- Damage: Catastrophic (Many buildings would have complete structural failure. Shattered glass from buildings everywhere. Extensive damage to trees and mobile homes would be completely destroyed. Hurricane Andrew was the last Cat 5 hurricane to hit the US. One of only three.)
- Storm surge: 18+ feet
Back To Top Hurricane Categories
Lightning strike on the Renaissance Center
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