The Saffir-Simpson Scale is a rating of one to five used to determine a hurricane's sustained wind speed.
The scale estimates potential property damage based on that rating. Any hurricane reaching Category Three or higher is considered a major hurricane because of the potential for significant loss of life and damage. But Category One and Two storms are still dangerous and should not be ignored.
Category One Hurricane:
Winds 74-95 mph. 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 Two Hurricane:
Winds 96-110 mph. 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 Three Hurricane:
Winds 111-129 mph. Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal 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 Four Hurricane:
Winds 130-156 mph. Well-built framed 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 Five Hurricane:
Winds 157 mph and greater. A high percentage of framed 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.
In recent years, experts have moved away from suggesting likely storm surge scenarios based on the severity of an individual hurricane. While storm surges of four to five feet have been expected with Category One storms, rising to 18 feet with Category Five storms, experts warn a storm surge of 18 feet is possible even with a Category One storm if conditions are right.
The best advice they can offer is to always prepare for the worst.