How are hurricanes categorized?
If you live in Florida, especially in a wind borne debris region (click to read more), you will at some time experience hurricane or at least storm force winds. But how do they categorize hurricanes and what is the system based on? Hurricanes are based on a system called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
What is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale ?
An engineer and a meteorologist developed the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale in 1971. Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson (at the time he was heading up the National Hurricane Center) created the system that differentiates storms based on sustained wind speed to describe estimated property damage. They decided to separate hurricanes into five different categories based on wind speed. The five categories are set in order of increasing intensity, 1-5 with a category 5 being the most powerful.
Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.