Harvey was a Cat 4 hurricane. Irma is a Cat 5. Is there anything worse?
Not according to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, says Space City Weather meteorologist Eric Berger. We don’t need one. “Historically Category 5 hurricanes have encompassed anything above 155 miles per hour in terms of sustained wind speed, and generally that has been enough,” he says.
According to the National Hurricane Center, these are the official desctiptions of hurricane categories:
Category 1 (119-153 km/h): Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
Category 2 (154-177 km/h): Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
Category 3 (178-208 km/h): Devastating damage will occur: Well-built frame homes may incur major damage or loss of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
Category 4 (209-251 km/h): Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built frame homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category 5 (252 km/h or higher): Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of frame homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
“There have been a few storms that have been above that but I think essentially it conveys the message that this is a terribly violent storm that you need to do everything in your power to get out of the way of,” says Berger.