Hurricane Information - Storm Categories

Storm Surge and the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale


Category 1:  Minimal Damage

Winds:  74-95 mph

Surge:  4 to 5 feet


An abnormal rise of sea along a shore as the result, primarily, of the winds from a storm.


Category 2:  Moderate Damage

Winds:  96-110 mph

Surge:  6 to 8 feet


No real damage to building structures.  Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees.  Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.


Category 3:  Extensive Damage

Winds:  11-130 mph

Surge:  9 to 12 feet


Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings.  Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down.  Considerable damage to mobile homes and piers.  Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.


Category 4:  Extreme Damage

Winds:  131-155 mph

Surge:  13-18 feet


Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures.  Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down.  Mobile homes are destroyed.  Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering of floating debris.


Category 5:  Catastrophic Damage

Winds:  More than 155 mph

Surge:  Higher than 18 feet


More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences.  Shrubs, trees and most signs are blown down.  Complete destruction of mobile homes.  Extensive damage to doors and windows.  Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore.


Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-6 km) of the shoreline may be required.  These surge values are averages for these storm categories.  Actual surge depths and damage may be much greater.