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What To Expect From Hurricane Categories 1-5

Real Estate Agent

What To Expect From Hurricane Categories 1-5 


Hurricanes are classified into 5 categories.  Each category is determined by its wind speed, central pressure, and the potential for damages.  Hurricane categories 1 and 2 are considered dangerous, but are not nearly as severe as categories 3, 4 and 5.  Hurricane categories 3 and above are considered major hurricanes with the potential to cause extreme damage and even death.  While all hurricanes are serious enough to warrant your attention, you should be prepared to act immediately when face with hurricane categories 3 and above.  


To find out what to expect from each hurricane category, please review the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale below.    



Sustained Winds (MPH)





           74 - 95

       Very dangerous winds will produce some damage

  • Minor damage to exterior of homes
  • Toppled tree branches, uprooting of smaller trees
  • Extensive damage to power lines, power outage



           96 - 110

       Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage

  • Major damage to exterior of homes
  • Uprooting of small trees and many roads blocked
  • Guaranteed power outages for long periods of time – days to weeks



          111 - 130

       Devastating damage will occur

  • Extensive damage to exterior of homes
  • Many trees uprooted and many roads blocked
  • Extremely limited availability of water and electricity



          131 - 155

       Catastrophic damage will occur

  • Loss of roof structure and/or some exterior walls
  • Most trees uprooted and most power lines down
  • Isolated residential due to debris pile up
  • Power outages lasting for weeks to months



          156 and above

       Catastrophic damage will occur

  • A high percentage of homes will be destroyed
  • Fallen trees and power lines isolate residential areas
  • Power outages lasting for weeks to months
  • Most areas will be uninhabitable


For additional information on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, please visit the National Hurricane Center.

Posted by

Buying or selling your next home in northern VA or MD? Let's get started today.


Lisa Dunham, MBA
Associate Broker
Keller Williams Realty Alexandria-Kingstowne
703.562.1800 (office)  |  703.298-6546 (direct)
Licensed in VA, MD
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Comments (10)

Eric Crane -- Your Full Service, Discount Fee Realtor®
DPR Realty LLC - Gilbert, AZ
Greater Metro Phoenix Arizona

Hi, Lisa -- this was a very good review, since it is on the minds of so many residents along the Eastern seaboard.

I hope that you and yours will be safe and well.

Aug 26, 2011 06:27 AM
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, Broker/Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Lisa, yes good info for everyone in Hurricane prone areas.  I have friends up and down the east coast...I hope all of you stay safe.

Aug 26, 2011 02:33 PM
Lisa Dunham
Alexandria, VA
Associate Broker, Alexandria Virginia Real Estate

Thanks Eric!  We will definitely do our best to stay safe.  Thanks for stopping by!

Aug 26, 2011 02:43 PM
Lisa Dunham
Alexandria, VA
Associate Broker, Alexandria Virginia Real Estate

Thanks Nick!  I have friends and family along the east coast as well.  We are all doing what we can to stay safe and sound.  Thanks for dropping by and I hope your friends are well also. 

Aug 26, 2011 02:49 PM
Robert Hammerstein -
Christie's International Real Estate - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Lisa - this is a great reference post for the Hurricane Season that is upon us now. We are still awaiting Irene's arrival here in NJ Be safe in your area as well.

Aug 27, 2011 06:00 AM
Lisa Dunham
Alexandria, VA
Associate Broker, Alexandria Virginia Real Estate

Thanks Lisa and Robert!  Be safe as well and let's all hope for the best.

Aug 27, 2011 06:46 AM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

In 2004 we lived through 4 Hurricanes, but only Charley was a direct hit, and it was only Category 1, the weakest, but  you should have seen the damage. Some of the trees looked like in the middle of winter, not a single leaf

Roofs were damaged on a ver many homes, I have seen 18-wheelers overturned, all signage was wiped out, and the streets were covered with up to a foot of branches and leaves. A carpert of sorts

An people were out of power for a long time

Aug 27, 2011 08:11 AM
Lisa Dunham
Alexandria, VA
Associate Broker, Alexandria Virginia Real Estate

My goodness Jon!  I have only experienced one ... Hurricane Hugo ... 1989 in SC.  It was a category 5.  After that, I can assure you that I will definitely evacuate before sitting through another one.

Aug 27, 2011 10:39 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hi Lisa --- I was directed to your post by the reblog by the Hammersteins in NJ.   This is a very concise guide to understanding the different categories of hurricanes.   I hope all is well and the impact by Irene(and others that are sure to follow) is as minimal as possible.  

Aug 27, 2011 11:37 AM
Lisa Dunham
Alexandria, VA
Associate Broker, Alexandria Virginia Real Estate

Michael, I am glad you found the information helpful.  Thank you for stopping by and come back soon! :-)

Aug 27, 2011 02:29 PM