Hurricane Categories

Hurricane season is June 1 through November 30. South Florida’s season is typically most active from August through October. Hurricanes range from a Category 1, which produces the least damage, to a Category 5, which causes the most devastating damage. Following is a description of the five storm categories, with a description of damage that may be anticipated from each category.​​

Category 1: Sustained winds 74-95 mph, 64-82 kt, or 119-153 km/hr

  • Damage primarily to shrubbery, trees, and unanchored mobile homes. No real damage to other structures.
  • Some damage to poorly constructed signs.
  • Older mobile homes could be destroyed, especially if they are not anchored properly.
  • Windows in high-rise buildings can be broken by flying debris.

Category 2: Sustained winds 96-110 mph, 83-95 kt, or 154-177 km/hr

  • Considerable damage to shrubbery and tree foliage; some trees blown down.
  • Major damage to exposed mobile homes.
  • Extensive damage to poorly constructed signs; some damage to roofing materials of buildings; and some window and door damage.
  • No major damage to buildings, but considerable damage to piers. Marinas flooded and small craft in unprotected anchorages torn from their moorings.
  • Substantial risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris.

Category 3: Sustained winds 111-129 mph, 96-112 kt, or 178-208 km/hr

  • Foliage torn from trees; large trees blown down.
  • Practically all poorly-constructed signs blown down; some damage to roofing materials of buildings; some window and door damage; structural damage to small buildings.
  • Mobile homes destroyed.
  • Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to a few weeks after the storm passes.
  • Most commercial signage, fences, and canopies will be destroyed.

Category 4: Sustained winds 130-156 mph, 113-136 kt, or 209-251 km/hr

  • Shrubs and trees blown down; virtually all signs down.
  • Extensive damage to roofing materials, windows and doors; complete failure of roofs on many small residences.
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes.
  • Large amounts of windborne debris will be lofted into the air. Windborne debris damage will break most unprotected windows and penetrate some protected windows.

Category 5: Sustained winds 157+ mph, 137+ kt, or 252+ km/hr

  • Shrubs and trees blown down; considerable damage to roofs of buildings; all signs down.
  • Very severe and extensive damage to windows and doors; complete failure of roofs on many residences and industrial buildings; extensive shattering of glass in windows and doors; some complete building failures.
  • Small buildings overturned or blown away.
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes.