Most Americans are familiar with the Saffir-Simpson scale. This scale measures hurricanes on a scale from Category 1, which is lower on the intensity scale, to Category 5, the highest.
A Category 1 hurricane, defined as sustained winds of 74-95 mph, is usually associated with minor damage. Homes may lose a few shingles. You could see some damage to siding and gutters. Large tree branches may snap. Expect some damage to power lines and poles. Power outages can last for several days.
A Category 2 hurricane, defined as sustained winds of 96-110 mph, is considered more extensive damage. Windows can break from flying debris. You will probably see major roof and siding damage. Shallow-rooted trees can snap or be uprooted, blocking roads. Look for nearly total power outages. Power outages for several days to weeks.
A Category 3 hurricane, is considered a major hurricane. It has 111-129 mph sustained winds and the damage is usually devastating. Doors can be blown in and your roof may begin to flap. Well built frame homes can sustain major roof and siding damage. Many trees will come down blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water could be unavailable for days to weeks.
A Category 4 hurricane, defined as sustained winds of 130-156 mph, is considered catastrophic damage. Expect most of the roof to be lost. Most windows break. Well built homes will sustain major structural damage including some exterior walls. Most trees are uprooted and nearly all power poles destroyed. Fallen trees and power poles isolate areas. Power outages can last for weeks to months. Areas will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Clean water is unavailable for a long time.
A Category 5 hurricane, defined as sustained winds over 157 mph, is also considered catastrophic damage. Most framed houses suffer complete structural failure. Expect roof failure and wall collapse. Almost all trees are snap or are uprooted. Like Category 4, areas are isolated. Power outages can last for weeks or months. Areas are uninhabitable for weeks or months. Clean water unavailable for a long time.
Remember a slight shift in a hurricane's track or a last minute change in intensity can make all the difference when it comes to specific impacts for your neighborhood. Follow the advice of your county Emergency Managers.