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Hurricane Categories, What Do They Mean?


The threat of a storm brewing in an ocean far away rarely bothers civilians until the title hurricane arises. The transformation of a tropical storm to a hurricane heading directly towards your state can cause chaos. 

Even though, the title hurricane is associated with natural disasters this does not mean all hurricanes are equal in strength. Out of five hurricane categories, increasing in values from 1-5, Cat 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes.

United Water Restoration Group would like to discuss the hurricane categories. We want to discuss how these categories differ and give you a better understanding of what to expect. If you know about the hurricane categories and would like Florida hurricane preparedness tips, you can check out our blog regarding that information. 

Hurricane Categories

What makes a hurricane increase in strength? First, there must be warm water along with moisture in the air. This is why hurricane season is during the warmer seasons of the year along the equator. 

When a cluster of thunderstorms forms in these conditions, they will create a straw-like hurricane formation. Heat energy is the fuel of this storm, only land, and cool air currents can disrupt this power.

Cat. 1 / 74-95mph

Storm surges may occur usually 4-5 feet above normal. Damage will primarily be dealt with trees, shrubbery, and mobile homes. Very basic, loose items – such as shingles and gutters may come loose. Occasionally, powerline’s may be snapped and cause short-term power outages.

Cat. 2 / 96-110mph

Some trees can be blown over, as well as major damage to exposed mobile homes. Window and door damage is common. The roofing material of buildings can be torn off, but no major destruction to buildings. 

With increased category is higher storm surge levels. Typically, coastal roads are cut off due to rising water levels. Damage to piers is frequent with the rougher waves. Flying debris can be seen and power outages can last days to weeks.


Cat. 3 / 111-129mph

Debris will be sucked up into the wind catastrophe as the foliage is torn from trees and shingles are easily removed. Large trees can be blown over. Mobile homes stand almost no chance in a cat 3 and higher hurricane. 

Extreme flooding near the coast is possible, followed by the destruction of buildings located nearby. Larger structures begin to receive damage. This is when evacuation of coastal residents is mandatory. Following, water and power will likely be unavailable for days to weeks after.

Cat. 4 / 130-156mph

Storm surges rise to 13-18 feet. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown over. There will be extensive damage to roofs, windows, and doors. Complete failure of smaller residence; mobile homes completely demolished. 

Major erosion of beaches occurs, which leads to a mandatory evacuation from coastal and some parts of inland. Rising water from storm surges can occur 3-5 hours before the hurricane makes contact. Once again, water and power shortages can cause the area to be uninhabitable for weeks to months.

Cat.5 / 157 + mph

There will be considerable damage to residential roofs and high-rise buildings. Small facilities can completely vanish into the wind as debris. Complete failure of resident roofing and industrial buildings is common. 

Major damage to lower floors as floods rise to more than 18 feet. Power outages will last weeks as water supply will also be uncommon. Evacuation must not be taken lightly and will be mandatory as this is the most dangerous form of a hurricane. Most areas will be uninhabitable.



Hurricane Recovery

Hurricanes can cost the nation billions of dollars. After a hurricane, return home ONLY when it is completely safe. Evaluate your living space for water damage, or potentially mold colony formation. As storm surges and higher hurricane categories typically result in flooded areas.

Post-hurricane, homeowners will try to expedite their home’s recovery process. If there is noticeable, severe water damage contact one of our experienced restoration technicians as soon as possible at (800) 430-5838. United Water Restoration Group’s technicians have the most modern experience in hurricane, water damage restoration techniques!