Hurricane Classifications


While it might be several months away from the official start of the 2016 hurricane season, it’s never too early to get prepared. The first step in preparing for a hurricane is to understand the potential classifications.

Hurricanes are classified by their maximum sustained winds measured in miles per hour (mph). Every hurricane starts out as a tropical depression moving at less than 38 mph. If the tropical depression continues to grow, it is then categorized as a tropical storm with a maximum of 73 mph winds. Both tropical storms and tropical depressions can cause heavy rains and flooding, and should be watched carefully in case they upgrade to a hurricane.

Hurricane Classifications and Their Damages

Category 1 hurricanes have maximum sustained winds between 74 and 95 mph. While this category usually produces no structural damage to a building, it can easily blow roof shingles off, break large branches of trees, and cause minor flooding. Category 1 hurricanes often cause power outages that can last from several days to a week.

Category 2 hurricanes have sustained winds between 96 and 110 mph that can cause major roof and siding damage. These storms can also uproot shallow trees that block roads, making recovery after the storm difficult. The power outages associated with a Category 2 hurricane can last anywhere from several days to several weeks.

Categories 3 and above are considered major hurricanes. A Category 3 hurricane has winds between 111 and 129 mph and will cause significant damage to the area it hits. Homes and businesses can experience severe damage and complete removal of roof decking. Flooding near the landfall site may destroy small homes and continue to flood far inland. Power outages can last for several weeks.

Category 4 hurricanes have sustained winds between 130 and 156 mph. Homes and businesses can suffer severe damage, including complete removal of the roof structure or exterior walls. Extensive flooding can carry large debris for miles and pose a threat to the structures that are still standing. Power lines will be downed and trees will be uprooted, causing isolation that will make it extremely challenging to begin recovery. The area hit by the hurricane may be uninhabitable for weeks or months following the storm’s landfall.

Category 5 is the most devastating type of hurricane, with maximum sustained winds greater than 157 mph. These hurricanes cause catastrophic damage to homes and businesses, often completely destroying them. Widespread flooding can bury entire cities and make rescue efforts challenging. Downed power lines will take months to restore and the area hit by the hurricane will be uninhabitable for months following the natural disaster.

Raizner Slania Has Extensive Experience Handling Hurricane Insurance Claims Denials

The catastrophic devastation caused by a hurricane can leave you feeling utterly alone. The attorneys at Raizner Slania have helped homeowners and business owners across the country when their property has been destroyed or severely damaged by hurricanes. We are litigation professionals who know the insurance business and how to protect your rights. Contact us today to for a free consultation.


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