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Hurricane Categories and What They Mean

With hurricane season upon us, it is time to start preparing your disaster recovery plans just in case a storm decides to head your way. While every storm has its own risks, not every hurricane requires the same level of planning. You need to adjust your disaster plans around the strength of the storm.

We measure hurricane strength with the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, a 1-5 categorization that tracks wind speeds. However, do not be fooled by this. Hurricanes bring more than just wind, and to properly prepare for them you must understand how these other aspects of the storms will affect your business.

Category 1 Hurricane

When the winds reach 74 miles per hour, a rotating storm becomes a hurricane. If the sustained winds stay under 96 miles per hour, the storm gets the Category 1 label. Category 1 storms bring minor damage and flooding risks to property, people, and animals. Most protected glass remains intact in these storms. If you have a good back-up generator, you can even continue doing business the day after the storm passes. Otherwise, you might have to deal with an occasional power outage that could last for several days. Hurricane Dolly from 2008 was a Category 1 hurricane.

Category 2 Moderate Hurricane

At 96 miles per hour, the storm is now category 2, and it will stay that way until it tops 100 mph. The winds are now strong enough to both damage to property and injure people. You should pan for flooding in low-lying areas as well. The power outages can last for a few days or a few weeks. You can expect to have to close your business during that time. Hurricane Frances of 2004 was a Category 2 storm.

Category 3 Major Hurricane

Category 3 hurricanes have winds anywhere before 111 and 130 miles per hour and are considered major storms. These storms present significant risks to both life and property – even sturdy buildings. Roads may get blocked, while electricity and water could be unusable for days if not weeks. Flood waters can extend far inland as well. 2004’s Hurricane Ivan was a Category 3 hurricane.

Category 4 Major Hurricane

Category 4 hurricane winds range from 131 to 155 miles per hour. These storms bring catastrophic damage to both life and property, and will require major planning to keep your business running after the storms hit. These storms can rip off roofs and shatter exterior walls, topple trees, and cause massive flooding that can leave an area uninhabitable for weeks or months. Hurricane Charley from 2004 had Category 4 winds.

Category 5 Major Hurricane

Hurricanes do not get worse than category 5. These monster storms, with winds of 155 mph, are why you have disaster recovery plans in the first place. Expect your office building or factory to not exist after one of these storms hit as they often bring total wall roof failure and collapse. Your area could be render uninhabitable for months as well. Hurricane Katrina from 2005 was a Category 5 storm.

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According to the 2016 Hurricane Season Predictions, we could see at least three storms of category 3 or higher. Follow our blog for tips and strategies that will keep your business operating and home protected from whatever nature decides to throw our way.

Please give us a call at 936-372-1222 or toll-free at 800-245-0199 to get started.