Hurricanes are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson scale and ranked from 1 to 5. Let us take a quick look at how different hurricanes compare on parameters such as wind speed, storm surges, etc. The figures mentioned here allow meteorologists to take call on the extent of evacuation necessary and infrastructure preparation to be done.
- Category One – Wind speeds in the range of 74-95 mph. The storm surge is around 4-5 feet above normal. In such a hurricane, coastal roads may flood and unanchored mobile homes close to the shore may suffer damage.
- Category Two – These hurricanes can touch wind speeds in the range of 96-110 mph. The storm surges can rise up to 8 feet above normal. These hurricanes are intense enough to cause structural damage to some buildings. Evacuate low-lying areas because these flood as much as four hours before the arrival of the hurricane centers; what’s more road signs can get knocked off and you won’t know which way to go in poor weather. Moorings can snap and small boats can drift away.
- Category Three – These hurricanes can whip up speeds of up to 130 mph and lead to a storm surge that is as much as 12 feet above normal. Even large trees can get blown down. Low-lying areas can get inundated as much as five hours before the actual hurricane arrives. If the land from shore onward is low-lying, it can get flooded as much as eight miles inland. Debris from damaged homes and trees can batter other constructions. Wind, door, and roof damage occurs with near total destruction of small construction near the shores can occur.
- Category Four – Such hurricanes are not very common but when they do happen they arrive with wind speeds in the range of 131-155 mph. The storm surge arrives with a wall of water that can be as much as 18 feet high. Trees and shrubs are uprooted. Mobile homes are completely destroyed. Low lying areas are inundated and even areas that are up to six miles inland have to be evacuated to higher ground. Houses near the shore suffer serious structural damages.
- Category Five – These are the severest of all hurricanes and winds can touch an astonishing 249 mph. Even areas located as high as 15 feet above the sea level and as much as 500 yards away from the shore suffer serious structural damage. If an evacuation order is issued for such hurricanes, follow it. Because when a wall of storm water more that eighteen feet high comes rushing in; you want to be totally out of its path.