Hurricane 101

Regardless of how it is categorized, any hurricane should be treated as a potential threat to your safety. Below you’ll find information on the categorization of hurricanes, the damage they cause and other severe weather conditions they can lead to.

Watches vs. Warnings

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch, usually within 36 hours.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the warning, usually within 24 hours.

Hurricane Wind Scale

Hurricanes are considered the most violent storms on earth because they can encompass many other types of inclement weather, such as powerful thunderstorms, heavy rain that can lead to flooding, tornadoes and wind gusts of over 100 mph. The official hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th, but the greatest chance of a hurricane landfall for Texas is during August and September.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed:

Category 1 – Winds 74 to 95 mph
Very dangerous winds will produce some damage:

Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles 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 – Winds 96 to 110 mph
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 2 – Winds 96 to 110 mph
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 – Winds 111 to 129 mph
Devastating damage will occur:

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 4 – Winds 130 to 156 mph
Catastrophic damage will occur:

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 4 – Winds 130 to 156 mph
Catastrophic damage will occur:

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 5 – Winds 157 mph or higher
Catastrophic damage will occur:

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.

Tornadoes

A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground. Because wind is invisible, it is hard to see a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust and debris. Tornadoes are the most violent of all atmospheric storms.

The peak “tornado season” for the Southern Plains is during May into early June. On the Gulf coast, it is earlier during the spring. Tornadoes can also happen at any time of day or night, most tornadoes occur between 4–9 p.m.

Tornado WATCH: Issued when weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes.

Tornado WARNING: Issued when a tornado has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar and there is a serious threat to life and property to those in the path of the tornado.  During a tornado warning, it is important to act quickly and seek safe shelter.

Sources:

Reliant Storm Preparedness tips and checklist sheet.

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