In case you’re faced with a potentially devastating disaster like a hurricane, it’s good to prepare yourself for what’s to come. That includes knowing what to expect when you hear a hurricane is a Category 1, a Category 5, or any point in between.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale uses a rating scale of 1 to 5, based on a hurricane's continuous wind speed, to estimate potential property damage. The higher the rating, the more dangerous the hurricane — and the more increased potential for major damage and significant loss of life.
Here’s a list of the five hurricane categories and what to expect if one comes to your area.
Category 1 Hurricane
Hurricane Barry is an example of a Category 1 storm that hit Louisiana in 2019.
- Winds of 74-95 mph
- Damage primarily to shrubbery, tree foliage and unanchored mobile homes
- No real damage to other structures
- Some damage to poorly constructed signs
- Storm surge four to five feet above normal
- Low-lying coastal roads flooded
- Minor pier damage
- Small craft in exposed anchorages torn from moorings
Category 2 Hurricane
Hurricane Rita was a very intense Category 2 hurricane that caused significant damage to the Gulf Coast in 2005.
- Winds of 96-110 mph
- Considerable damage to tree foliage, some trees down
- Major damage to exposed mobile homes
- Extensive damage to poorly constructed signs
- Some damage to roofing
- Storm surge six to eight feet above normal
- Coastal roads and low-lying inland escape routes blocked by rising water
- Considerable damage to piers
- Marinas flooded
- Small crafts in unprotected anchorages torn from moorings
- Required evacuation of some shoreline residences and low-lying islands
Category 3 Hurricane
Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 storm with winds near 127 mph, causing severe flooding damage in cities from New Orleans, Louisiana to Biloxi, Mississippi.
- Winds of 111-130 mph
- Devastating damage
- Many trees snapped or uprooted, blocking roads
- Flying and falling debris
- High risk of injury or death to people, livestock and pets
- Nearly all older mobile homes destroyed
- Newer mobile homes may experience significant damage
- Major damage to frame homes, apartments and industrial buildings
- Electricity and water unavailable for several days to weeks after storm passes
Category 4 Hurricane
Hurricane Ike was a Category 4 hurricane that caused catastrophic damage to the Bahamas, Haiti and the United States. It’s the third most damaging storm in U.S. history.
- Winds of 131-155 mph
- Shrubs and trees down, all signs down
- Extensive damage to roofing, windows and doors
- Roof collapse
- Complete destruction of mobile homes
- Storm surge 13 to 18 feet above normal
- Flat terrain 10 feet or less above sea level flooded inland as far as six miles
- Major damage to lower floors of structures near shore due to flooding, waves and floating debris
- Low-lying water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives
- Major erosion of beaches
- Massive evacuation may be required for all residences within 500 yards of shore
- Possible evacuation of single-story residences on low ground within two miles of shore
Category 5 Hurricane
Hurricane Andrew was a Category 5 storm that hit South Florida in 1992 with wind speeds of 165 miles per hour. Total damages from Andrew exceeded 25 billion dollars.
While a standard homeowners’ insurance policy can cover wind storm damage from a hurricane, it doesn’t cover flooding. Alfa® offers affordable flood insurance to give you additional protection against devastating disasters like hurricanes. Contact your local Alfa agent today to learn more.
- Winds greater than 155 mph
- Shrubs and trees down, considerable damage to roofing, all signs down
- Severe and extensive damage to windows and doors
- Complete roof collapse
- Destruction of glass in windows and doors
- Some complete building failures
- Small buildings overturned or blown away
- Complete destruction of mobile homes
- Storm surge higher than 18 feet above normal
- Major damage to lower floors of all structures less than 15 feet above sea level and within 500 yards of shore
- Low-lying escape routes inland cut off by rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives
- Massive evacuation may be required for residential areas on low ground within five to 10 miles of shore
All coverages are subject to deductibles and policy limits. This is not an insurance policy. It is intended only to provide a general description of Alfa Insurance® and/or its product lines and services. An actual policy contains the specific details of the coverages, conditions and exclusions.